NDSU student Sarah Martinsen, a junior majoring in sociology, was killed the evening of March 16 in a vehicle-pedestrian accident in Florida. She was 21 years old.
According to the Florida Highway Patrol, Martinsen was jogging along highway 95A in Escambia County when she was struck by a passing Jeep. She was pronounced dead at the scene, and the accident is under investigation.
A native of Minot, N.D., Martinsen was in Florida as part of a service trip involving the NDSU chapter of Students Today Leaders Forever. The group, which included 40 members from NDSU and two from Minnesota State University Moorhead, was in Pensacola, Fla., a stop on a six-city “Pay It Forward Tour.” During the tours, students participate in service and leadership activities, learn about social issues, build relationships and make a commitment to continued action when they return home.
Earlier during the day of the accident, the students were in Tuscaloosa, Ala., where Martinsen worked with children with learning disabilities, cleaned the facility and participated in a dance party. A friend said Martinsen had called the experience the best day of her life.
“Sarah was such a great role model,” Megan Piper, a first-year student majoring in family and consumer sciences education from Casselton, N.D., who met Martinsen on the trip. “I want to live my life the way she lived hers. She inspired me from the very first time I spoke to her to the last time I saw her.
“I’m so happy she was part of my life, and that she got to have the best day of her life the day she left us. I can’t wait to see her again in heaven,” Piper said.
In Martinsen’s honor, the group cleaned a church in Pensacola the morning after her death. The group also decided to continue on to New Orleans, the last stop of the tour, where they were scheduled to meet six other Pay It Forward Tour buses to participate in a joint service project and celebration.
Martinsen was membership chair of the Phi Eta Sigma national honor society and a member of NDSU Sociology Club. She was the daughter of Wayne Martinsen, Minot, and Debra DeWitz, Minot.
“Our heart goes out to family and friends of Sarah Martinsen, she was a model student and clearly a person who cared about others as evidenced by her participation in this program. Our university has suffered a great loss,” said NDSU university spokeswoman, Najla Amundson.