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Two Harbors mourns loss of young woman in South Carolina crash

20-year-old Chloe Hietala of Two Harbors died Monday near Westminster, South Carolina.

Chloe Hietala
Chloe Hietala
Contributed / Grace Hietala
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TWO HARBORS — A young Two Harbors woman who died Sept. 12 in a South Carolina car crash will be remembered by her family and friends for her humor, driven spirit, resilience and faith.

Twenty-year-old Chloe Hietala, who graduated from Two Harbors High School in 2020, was identified as the sole fatality in a two-vehicle crash near Westminster, South Carolina, on Monday morning. According to the South Carolina Highway Patrol, Hietala was hit by an oncoming semi truck when her vehicle entered an intersection. She died of injuries sustained in the accident. The other driver was not injured.

Hietala was living in South Carolina with her aunt and uncle, April and Kyle Imholte, while taking classes. She had previously attended Crown College in St. Bonifacius, Minnesota, where she was a member of the volleyball team. Hietala planned to go on after graduating with a degree in biology to become a physician's assistant.

Chloe Hietala
Chloe Hietala
Contributed / Grace Hietala

"She was one of the most beautiful people I’ve ever met, both inside and out," April Imholte said. "Chloe had just a heart of gold. She loved people and animals hard. She loved on a different level.”

Hietala's sisters, Grace and Adriana Hietala, said Chloe would go out of her way to protect animals, even if it meant swerving around frogs in the road.

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“She said, ‘Everybody in this town thinks we’re crazy, but I really think they only think we’re crazy because we love harder than anybody else.’ And she did," Adriana Hietala said. “She’s someone you’re proud to know, and I was so proud to tell people she’s my sister.”

Rheo Johnson, one of Hietala's close friends, said Chloe was well-known for her humor.

"She was always trying to crack a joke, even in places she probably shouldn’t have," Johnson said. "She was always just trying to make people smile and laugh. She was always super considerate and always cared about people’s feelings. Even if she didn’t feel good herself, she wanted to make sure that other people did feel good.”

Laura Butterbrodt covers health for the Duluth News Tribune. She has a bachelor of arts in journalism from South Dakota State University and has been working as a reporter in Minnesota and South Dakota since 2014.

Johnson met Hietala in middle school while playing hockey, and they became best friends almost instantly. They played hockey and volleyball together through high school, and were on the track and field team. Hietala enjoyed fitness and was dedicated to exercising at the gym.

Hietala's family noted that Chloe was extremely goal-oriented, and never gave up until she accomplished what she set out to do. She also encouraged those close to her to meet their full potential, and her cousin Bella Imholte said Hietala inspired her and helped her through difficult times.

"There was such a huge smile on her face all the time," said Doug Cook, Hietala's grandfather. "It was always that huge smile on her face that is embedded into me and will never leave. My love for her was deep, and I wish you could always tell people more about how you feel before something like this happens.”

Chloe Hietala
Chloe Hietala
Contributed / Grace Hietala

Hietala's family said faith was extremely important to Chloe, and she credited her devotion to Christianity for helping her through challenges in her life.

"She didn’t always have it easy in life — she struggled on and off — but she always had a deep foundation of her love for Christ," April Imholte said. "As a family, we wish she was here and would do anything to have her back, but we know that she is in heaven and we will be with her again.”

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Hietala was spontaneous and always spoke her mind. Zeta Brown, who was Hietala's roommate during their freshman year at Crown College, described her as a "wild card."

“I was very reserved, so she was that friend who brought me out. She was very free-spirited and down to do anything. I’m not the person I am today without her," Brown said. “Maybe people judged her because of how carefree she was, but I think that just added to her charm, honestly. She was who she was, through and through.”

Chloe Hietala
Chloe Hietala
Contributed / Grace Hietala

Hietala also loved going to the beach, the color purple, eating chocolate chip cookies, stargazing and singing in the car. She and her sister Grace traveled to several states across the country together.

“She was a light for sure," Grace Hietala said. "She showed a lot of people that you can overcome stuff that you’re going through. She was really my best friend.”

At Friday night's homecoming football game, Hietala's family was presented with her high school volleyball jersey — No. 3. Hietala's younger brother Isaiah also scored two touchdowns during the game.

Two Harbors High School Principal Julie Benson said even though Hietala had graduated, her death still impacted many people at school. Hietala has three younger siblings still in school, and the volleyball team and coaching staff was saddened by the loss of a former teammate.

“When we heard the news, you just had to stop — because everybody kind of knew Chloe, at least her name. She did leave her mark on Two Harbors High School,” Benson said. “Right now our focus is on Chloe, but all of the young people that we lose leave their mark on Two Harbors High School, and we will remember them. We lose too many too young.”

Services for Hietala will begin with an 11 a.m. visitation Monday, Sept. 19 at First Baptist Church in Two Harbors, followed by funeral services at 1 p.m.

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“She left this world very happy and we’re just so grateful for the 20 years that we had with her.," April Imholte said. "You’re never granted time, and I think one of the things Chloe would want from this is that we don’t take our time that we have for granted. The people that you love, you tell them you love them, and if everyone could just be kind and love one another, I know that’s what she would want most of all.”

A GoFundMe has been created to help Hietala's family with expenses. It can be found at gofund.me/ce0e8ce1.

Related Topics: TWO HARBORSACCIDENTSOBITS
Laura Butterbrodt covers health for the Duluth News Tribune. She has a bachelor of arts in journalism from South Dakota State University and has been working as a reporter in Minnesota and South Dakota since 2014.
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