CLEARWATER, MN – Two people were killed and several others injured in a multi vehicle collision Sunday night, October 3, in Stearns County, Minnesota. The deadly chain reaction truck accident was set off by a semi that rear-ended a passenger car on Interstate 94 just south of St. Cloud near the town of Clearwater, MN. The truck accident area is in the central part of Minnesota, about 54 miles northwest of Minneapolis-St. Paul, MN and about 150 miles southeast of Wahpeton, North Dakota.
On Sunday evening 56 year old David J. Dompleing of Orland Park, Illinois was driving a semi trailer truck through Sterns County, MN on westbound Interstate 94.
The truck accident happened shortly after 7:30 p.m. Sunday evening as traffic was slowing down in the westbound lanes of the highway. According to Minnesota State Patrol a passenger car had caught on fire in the area between Clearwater and Opportunity Drive. Traffic was slowing down as the vehicles were diverted around the burning car.
At about 7:37 p.m. the truck driver came up on the slower moving traffic but was driving at a faster speed then the other vehicles. Mr. Dompleing did not have the time or space to slow down and slammed into a Volvo driven by 22 year old Korene J. Schmitz of St. Cloud.
The rear-end truck accident would set off a deadly chain reaction and shut down the interstate for hours. After hitting the Volvo the semi trailer truck pushed it forward and both vehicles crashed into a Chrysler driven by Thomas C. Williams, 78, of Sandwich, IL. The Chrysler slammed into a Toyota Corolla sending it spinning into the back of a Buick LeSabre.
After the initial impact of the truck accident the Chrysler and the Volvo went off the highway and rolled over several times, finally coming to a stop in a ditch with the Chrysler on top of the Volvo.
The semi trailer that set off the truck accident also went out of control and jackknifed, crashing into the cable barrier at the dividing median of the interstate.
Emergency personnel responded to the collision site and began treating the victims. The driver of the Chrysler, Mr. Williams, and one of his passengers, Sophie A. Mitzel, 61, of Aurora, IL were fatally injured in the truck accident and died at the scene. Another person in the Chrysler, Patricia L. Wanner, 61, of Phoenix, Arizona suffered moderate injuries and was taken to St. Cloud Hospital. The three were on their way to visit the mother of the two women who was scheduled for heart surgery at a hospital in Wahpeton, North Dakota.
Four other people suffered a range of injuries in the truck accident. Ms. Schmitz, the driver of the Volvo, sustained serious injuries. The driver of the Corolla, Blaine W. Campbell, 30, of Bismarck, ND suffered minor injuries in the crash. Two passengers in the Corolla, Joshua J. Lassonde, 22, and Walter I. Lassonde, 25, had minor injuries. All four were transported to St. Cloud Hospital.
Julie M. Kopesky-Anderson, 46, was driving the Buick and had two passengers a 12 year old girl and a 14 year old boy. The three were not injured in the truck accident.
The truck driver who set off the deadly chain reaction collision was also not injured in the truck accident.
Minnesota State Patrol shut down all westbound lanes of I-94 while the rescue teams helped the victims and highway crews cleared the traffic lanes. The interstate remained closed for hours, with all lanes finally opened shortly after 1:30 a.m. Monday morning.
Authorities are still investigating the tragic multi vehicle collision and at this point have not released any information to the public. Charges may ultimately be bought against the driver of the semi once the investigation of the truck accident is concluded.
Gordon Elias & Seely, LLP recommend that if you know anyone who has been injured or killed as the result of a commercial truck accident involving a semi truck, 18 wheeler, big rig, tractor trailer or bus, tell them to immediately contact a qualified truck accident lawyer for advice. Often times the truck company and the truck driver will be from other states other than where the accident occurred. Truck accident attorneys often times have relationships with other experienced truck accident attorneys licensed in other states. Gordon, Elias & Seely LLP are licensed in Arkansas, Texas, Louisiana and Washington, DC and have informal relationships with other truck accident lawyers. For more information, visit their page about Minnesota truck accidents or call 800.773.6770.