At least five people died and several others were injured in a series of horrific crashes in the Twin Cities metro area late Thursday and early Friday, including one that killed a pregnant woman and resulted in criminal vehicular homicide charges.
In the most recent incident, about 2:24 a.m. Friday, two men, ages 45 and 23, were arrested after they allegedly used their vehicle to twice run over a group of people with whom they'd had a dispute at a Minneapolis bar. All four of the victims were taken to HCMC, where staff told police that one suffered severe head trauma and is not likely to survive, according to court filings.
Jail records show that one of the suspects is being held without bail pending assault charges, but make no mention of the other alleged assailant. Both men reportedly told investigators that they had had a couple of beers each when a confrontation broke out with a group of people at the bar, the filings said. Witnesses told police that they saw the men's vehicle driving in reverse about 50 feet and running over the victims, then lurching forward to run over them again.
In an earlier incident on the city's North Side, a pregnant woman was killed and three other people were injured when a speeding vehicle hit a parked minivan, police said. The crash happened about 10:50 p.m. Thursday in the 1300 block of N. Newton Avenue.
Officers and firefighters arrived on the scene of what police spokesman John Elder called a "catastrophic" crash and worked for nearly an hour trying to extricate the woman, who was eight months pregnant, from the twisted wreckage. She died before they could remove her.
Police said an SUV was traveling the wrong way down Newton Avenue, a one-way, when it hit a parked vehicle in the 1400 block of Newton before speeding into the next block, where it struck the minivan and several other vehicles.
Arriving officers found several vehicles smashed into each other, while bystanders comforted the two people trapped in the minivan, which had rolled over. The driver of the minivan and the two occupants of the suspect vehicle were hospitalized with noncritical injuries.
Two individuals from the suspect vehicle were taken into custody. Mark Franklin Jr., 36, of Minneapolis, was charged Friday with criminal vehicular homicide and three counts of criminal vehicular operation, all felonies. Franklin told police he was high on PCP at the time of the crash, according to the crimininal complaint. He remains jailed on $1 million bail.
The Hennepin County medical examiner will release the identity of the woman who died.
Meanwhile, in St. Paul, authorities on Friday released the name of a woman killed Thursday evening in a head-on crash in the Battle Creek neighborhood that also left three people critically injured.
Sulekha M. Abdi, 18, of St. Peter, Minn., died when she was thrown from the vehicle she was in, police said.
People began calling 911 about 6:25 p.m. to alert dispatchers to the crash on Lower Afton Road near Morningside Circle, according to authorities. Officers rushed to the scene and found several good Samaritans trying to help the injured.
Taken to area hospitals were three men in critical condition, ages 29, 25 and one age unknown, and a 19-year-old woman and 30-year-old man with noncritical injuries.
Police said a white Pontiac G6 carrying six people turned west onto Lower Afton Road from Morningside and crashed head-on into an eastbound red Pontiac G6 carrying two people.
The crash was "such a tragic incident that will affect many," said St. Paul police spokesman Steve Linders.
It was the second fatal crash in St. Paul in six hours. Earlier, one person died and several others were hurt in a four-vehicle crash on Hwy. 52 near Plato Boulevard.
That crash happened at 12:26 p.m., when a 2016 Chevrolet Malibu heading north on Hwy. 52 tried to merge from the left lane to the right, hitting a 2000 Saturn SL, which then rear-ended a 2008 Honda Civic. The Civic then hit a 2017 Ford Escape.
Gary J. Lesney, 64, of Inver Grove Heights, who was driving the Ford Escape, and Joseph P. Yanish, 41, of West St. Paul, who was driving the Honda Civic, suffered noncritical injuries and were not hospitalized.
The Saturn SL was driven by David McLin, 28, of Apple Valley, who along with one of his two passengers, Hailey M. Flynn, 20, of Minneapolis, was taken to Regions Hospital with noncritical injuries. A second passenger, Anthony Keli Kawino, was killed. None of the three people in the Saturn was wearing a seat belt.
The driver of the Chevy Malibu was Megan Severson, 20, of Preston, Minn. She was wearing a seat belt and suffered noncritical injuries that did not require hospitalization.
Alcohol was not a factor in that crash, authorities said.
In a fourth metro-area crash on Thursday, two people died when four vehicles collided on eastbound Hwy. 55 at Doyle Path in Rosemount, in Dakota County, at 12:21 p.m.
The vehicles involved in that crash included a 2015 Subaru Legacy driven by William L. Craig, 47, of South St. Paul. He and his passenger, Colette L. Craig, 48, were both killed. Both were wearing seat belts.
Also involved were a semitractor trailer driven by William J. Hayes, 67, of South St. Paul. The third vehicle was a 2008 Dodge Ram driven by Neal L. Wagner, 55, of Rochester. The fourth vehicle was a 1991 Volvo dump truck driven by Fred Fonji, 46, of Roseville. All three of those drivers were taken to Regions Hospital in St. Paul with noncritical injuries.
According to authorities, the crash occurred when the semi, heading east on Hwy. 55, stopped to turn left onto Doyle Path. The Subaru and pickup were stopped behind the semi waiting for it to turn when they were struck from behind by the dump truck, which caused a chain of collisions.
Alcohol was not a factor in the crash, authorities said, but the investigation is ongoing.
Staff writers Liz Sawyer and Pamela Miller contributed to this report. Libor Jany • 612-673-4064 Twitter: @StribJany