Chris McDonald first learned of graduate Ahsim Ahmed's death in a car accident on Saturday night, when he started receiving text messages from members of the EHS Debate Team.
McDonald, the debate team coach, worked for three years with Ahmed, who was a member of the debate team from his sophomore year onward. McDonald remembers him as a quiet, upbeat student who usually said hello when he passed in the school hallways.
"You never get used to anyone dying in that manner, but you know that it happens," McDonald said. "When it intersects that closely with your life, it reminds you that life is precious and unpredictable."
Ahmed, 18, was one of two people killed in a two-car collision near the intersection of Diffley Road and Amberleaf Trail in Eagan on Saturday evening. Emergency responders pronounced Ahmed and 42-year-old Kelly Kristiansen dead at the scene. The fiery accident temporarily shut down Diffley Road and left scorch marks and debris strewn across the pavement—some of which was still visible on Monday morning.
The Minnesota State Patrol is conducting an accident reconstruction. Police do not believe that alcohol was a contributing factor in the accident, police spokeswoman Danielle Anselment said on Monday, but authorities won't be able to rule it out entirely until autopsies are completed.
"This was a very significant collision with a large impact on the community," Anselment said.
Ahmed enjoyed the social atmosphere of the debate team and the personal development it provided, McDonald said. He graduated from EHS in 2011 and was studying law at the University of Iowa and was a video department assistant at the university, according to a press release issued by the University of Iowa on Monday.
"Ahsim was a wonderful addition to the Video department and provided a level a AV knowledge seemingly beyond his young age. He will be deeply missed by the everyone in the Law School," the press release said.
The Daily Iowan also spoke to a student who knew Ahmed at the University of Iowa.
Ahmed came to the University of Iowa to pursue a career in dentistry, and his Rienow hall floormates said he always struck them as a straight-laced, highly motivated student.
"He was the nicest kid I've ever met. He didn't drink — he didn't do anything like that that," said UI student Robbie Sakas, a friend. "He had high aspirations; he wanted to be a dentist. He was so kind."
Dentristy was the easy answer — the one he gave most of his friends and floormates — roommate Gregory Freebeck got to know Ahmed well enough to uncover the true passions within the soft-spoken 18-year old.
"Music. That was his huge passion, he was so driven for success," Freebeck said.
Kristiansen, a father of two elementary age boys, was a dedicated hockey and lacrosse coach, according to Eagan Hockey Association Board Member Joshua Alexander.
"The key thing I remember about Kelly was that he was always there for the kids, always patient and with a big smile on his face," Alexander said. Kristiansen had been a coach since 2007, when his oldest son, Jack, took up the sport, Alexander said. Alexander and Kristiansen would occasionally meet in in Eagan to play soccer with their sons, Alexander recalled.
“He loved those boys, unbelievably," said Alexander, who learned of Kristiansen's death on Sunday afternoon.
“I was crushed, like all of us who coached with him and knew him,” Alexander said. "42 years old, and having your life taken from you like that, with two kids and a wife, with so much to look forward to, it’s crushing."
A version of this story originally appeared on Eagan Patch.