Two dead, another in serious condition following crashA stretch of Minnesota Highway 194 was shut down for over six hours on Tuesday following a two-vehicle crash that left two men dead and one in serious condition.
By: Wendy Johnson, Pine Journal
A stretch of Minnesota Highway 194 was shut down for over six hours on Tuesday following a two-vehicle crash that left two men dead and one in serious condition.
According to the Minnesota State Patrol, Lon-Lee Lindquist, 29, of Cloquet and Troy R. Berens, 46, of Floodwood were dead at the scene after the 2001 Chevrolet sport utility vehicle in which they were riding collided head on with a 1978 GMC well drilling truck driven by Craig L. Sunnarborg of Esko. Sunnarborg was transported by ambulance to Essentia/St. Mary’s Medical Center in Duluth, where he was listed in serious condition at the time this issue of the Pine Journal went to press.
Sgt. Neil Dickinson, district investigator for the Minnesota State Patrol, said Wednesday that the investigation into the crash is still in very preliminary stages. At the time he arrived on the scene, he said three or four St. Louis County Sheriff’s deputies were already there, along with three to four state troopers. He was, however, able to lay out the basic scenario that led up to the crash.
Dickinson said Sunnarborg was traveling west on Highway 194 in the vicinity of Bergquist Road at approximately 3:39 p.m. when his truck experienced a sudden tire problem. Though the official report is not yet back from the Commercial Vehicle Inspector, Dickinson said there is evidence of a blown tire on the left front of Sunnarborg’s well drilling truck. The blowout caused the truck to suddenly veer into the opposite lane of the divided roadway and directly into the path of the SUV.
The resulting collision forced both vehicles off the roadway and into a pile up in the ditch south of the roadway. Sunnarborg, who was not wearing a seatbelt at the time of the crash, was ejected from his vehicle. Lindquist and Berens, both of whom were wearing seatbelts, were trapped inside their vehicle, where Dickinson said a fire broke out.
Dickinson reported that workers from the Minnesota Department of Transportation and local fire departments were on the scene for some time, cleaning up the roadway, spraying off oil patches and repairing areas of damaged pavement. Investigators for both the State Patrol and the Commercial Vehicle Inspector’s office began work on reconstructing the scene and mapping the crash distances with their diagnostic equipment.
Dickinson said final reports and witness statements are expected to be wrapped up within the next few days, and more information on the crash will be available to media outlets at that time.
Sunnarborg’s family was not available for comment on Wednesday.