Minn. Mom and Her 2 Toddler Children Die in Car Crash: 'The World Lost 3 Bright Amazing Souls'

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GoFundMe Lily and Joshua Kendrick

A Minnesota family is grieving after authorities say a mother and her two toddler children were killed in a car crash over the weekend.

The Maple Grove Police Department confirmed the fatal crash in a press release Monday, identifying the victims as Kiara Jones and her kids, Lily Kendrick, 3, and Joshua Kendrick, 2.

Authorities said they were called to the scene of the single-vehicle crash on Saturday morning just before 7 a.m. in Maple Grove.

Investigators believe Jones, 25, was driving at "approximately 80 mph" on a road that had a speed limit of 45 mph when she lost control of the vehicle.

Jones' car — which was also carrying front seat passenger Colin Stanifer-Brown in addition to Lily and Joshua — then crossed the median and struck a tree, police said. The impact of the crash caused the vehicle to split into two, the press release stated.

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Jones was declared dead at the scene, while Lily and Joshua were transported to a hospital with "life-threatening injuries." The children later died at the hospital, according to police.

Stanifer-Brown, 23, was also transported to the hospital after the crash, but he was later determined to have suffered non-life-threatening injuries, the release stated. At this time, his condition is unknown.

Authorities said it remains unclear why Jones was driving at an "extremely excessive speed," and that an investigation will examine whether there was proper use of child restraints and seatbelts, and if alcohol or drugs were a factor.

The Maple Grove Police Department and the Minnesota State Patrol Crash Reconstruction Specialists are currently working together to investigate the incident.

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Following the crash, family members gathered to grieve the tragic loss of the mother and her children, CBS affiliate WCCO reported.

"I'm going miss being a father and grandfather to them," Carl Billingsley, Jones' stepfather, told the outlet. "They were always on my mind — when I move about, when I see things, you know, make me think of them. I enjoyed coming home with things for them. I love to see the smile on [their] face when I come in."

Added the children's aunt, Lakira Kent: "They knew every one of us loved them, we always told them that."

Kent told WCCO that she shared a close bond with Jones and the kids, and that they had even stopped to see her that day prior to the accident.

"She came and we talked and we laughed like we always do," she recalled to the outlet. "I hugged the kids, kissed the kids, I told them I love them, I told her, you know, be safe."

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Fellow relative Penny Middleton also added of Jones: "She always made your day no matter what she was going through."

"If she was around and somebody else was going through something, she'd put that aside and comfort you and make sure that you felt that love, and you came back to feeling how you needed to feel, so she always made us laugh," Middleton told WCCO.

On Monday, Billingsley set up a GoFundMe page for his stepdaughter and grandchildren to assist with their funeral expenses.

"Saturday morning, the world lost three bright amazing souls," he wrote on the fundraiser, which has raised over $12,000. "We will update a picture every day to share the light that we had the privilege [to] love on and be loved by."

Those interested in donating to the GoFundMe page can do so here.

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