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One of four occupants of an off-road vehicle that crashed after dark north of Duluth has died, and officials suspect alcohol played a role in the wreck.

The crash of the side-by-side machine occurred shortly after 10 p.m. on May 6 near the intersection of N. Pike Lake and Helm roads in Canosia Township, the St. Louis County Sheriff's Office said.

Emergency responders took the vehicle's occupants to Duluth area hospitals for treatment of their injuries, the Sheriff's Office said.

Marty Hinz said the off-road vehicle "snapped off three trees about 10 inches in diameter" before it came to rest about 20 feet from the end of his drive on N. Pike Lake Road.

Emma Malmquist, 17, of nearby Saginaw, died Sunday at Essentia Duluth hospital, according to the Sheriff's Office.

Emma Malmquist
Emma Malmquist

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The others were less seriously injured. Sheriff's Cmdr. Wade Rasch identified them as Emily Honer, 18; Rachel Runstrom, 23; and Edgar Pena, 28. All live in the Duluth area.

Rasch said Honer was operating the machine at the time of the crash. Shortly before, the commander said, the four were at a "residence [nearby] associated with Honer with alcoholic beverages as if they had been having a little gathering, a party."

Maria Malmquist described her daughter, who grew up in Twig, Minn., as "the outdoorsy type, and she loved hanging out with her friends. She was spontaneous and spunky. … She wouldn't let nobody tell her what to do."

Malmquist said one of the occupants told her that the two teenage girls were sitting on the laps of Runstrom and Pena. Rasch said it appeared that the small space behind the seats was occupied. But either way, he added, the machine was not made to accommodate four people.

The Sheriff's Office said it intends to refer its criminal investigation in the coming weeks to the St. Louis County Attorney's Office for consideration of charges.