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A volunteer firefighter from a small northwestern Minnesota town has had to face an unimaginable tragedy.  When he responded to the scene of a horrific car crash earlier this week, he found that his teenage son was the victim.

The accident happened Sunday night in Borup, a town close to Ada–where Randy Peterson serves on the all-volunteer force. On the way to the scene, Peterson had tried calling his son, but wasn’t able to get him on the phone.

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Carter Peterson was in one of the two vehicles involved in the accident. When his father arrived on scene, he recognized his son’s car, engulfed in flames. Carter had died in the fire.

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“I dropped to my knees. I was a mess. Another member of the crew just held me,” Peterson told the Star Tribune.

His son had been on a date earlier that evening, and had dropped off his girlfriend and was headed home. The accident doesn’t appear to have been Carter’s fault. He was T-boned by a pickup truck driven by a 20 year-old man form North Dakota.

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The man in the pickup wasn’t seriously hurt. State Patrol officers said that the North Dakota man had alcohol in his system.

Randy Peterson said his son Carter was “probably the most cautious driver, two hands on the wheel and he never sped.”

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The rural area of Minnesota is known for its tight knit communities, and Ada has come together to support the Peterson family.  Carter had played on Ada-Borup High School’s football team. Before Wednesday night’s  game against Cass Lake-Bena, the tribal school performed a drum chant in Carter’s honor. The opposing team met with the Peterson family and presented them with wild rice, a symbol of hope.

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“The community support has been outstanding,” Peterson said.