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Friends remember Nick Bibeau, Cottage Grove teen killed in crash

Friends and former teammates of Nicholas Bibeau said the Park High School graduate and former swim team captain was an outgoing role model and hard worker who had a special ability to click with people.

"He was just a very good person and a very good friend and I always admired him," fellow 2011 Park graduate Chris Isely said. "I'm going to miss him a lot."

Friends and former classmates were recalling their good times with Bibeau after learning that he was killed in a car crash Thursday near the Cottage Grove-Woodbury border.

Bibeau, 18, was driving a car that lost control on the gravel surface of Sunny Hill Drive, left the road and struck a power pole, causing an electrical line to go down, according to Woodbury police.

The crash happened at 4:40 p.m. between Military Road and 65th Street. Bibeau was transported to Regions Hospital in St. Paul, where he died a short time later.

A passenger in Bibeau's vehicle, 17-year-old Allison Wendel of Cottage Grove, suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was hospitalized at Regions. She was later released, according to a hospital spokeswoman.

Woodbury police Cmdr. Steve Wills said electricity "was involved in the accident" and that investigators were looking into the possibility that Bibeau had been electrocuted.

"It was a pretty dangerous scene," Wills said.

Police believed Bibeau and Wendel were wearing seat belts. There was no indication that Wendel had been electrocuted. Drugs and alcohol were not suspected in the crash, Wills said.

Wendel is a senior at Park. Students at the school were told of the crash Friday and the school encouraged them to meet with staff if they had questions or needed support after learning of Bibeau's death and Wendel's injuries.

Bibeau was part of a core group of about four Park swimmers who were on the team together for six years. Isely, who swam with Bibeau from grades 7-12, said his former teammate was competitive but also inclusive.

"He was just very encouraging," Isely said. "He would just motivate us and he was a very smart kid."

He added: "All the kids on the team thought he was funny. He had a way of clicking with people right away."

In his senior year, Bibeau shared the title of co-captain with Tyler Gelbmann.

"Honestly, I wouldn't have chosen anyone to be a better co-caption with me," Gelbmann said. "He had charisma and he had a really hard work ethic."

Gelbmann said he and Bibeau were best friends through junior high.

"He was definitely a jokester," he recalled. "He'd always get a smile on your face."

"I miss him," Gelbmann added.

Bibeau, who was attending Inver Hills Community College, is the son of Dennis and Diana Bibeau of Cottage Grove.

Funeral services are planned for 2 p.m. Thursday, May 10, at Crossroads Church, 5900 Woodbury Drive in Woodbury. Visitation will begin at 1 p.m. An open house is planned at theAlley Church, 80th Street and Jamaica Avenue, after the burial.

In Bibeau's honor a memorial fund will be set up at Merchants Bank in Cottage Grove for the Park High School Boys Swim and Dive Booster Club.

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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