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Associated Press, Published April 07 2013

3 dead, 5 hurt in I-94 crash in Minneapolis

MINNEAPOLIS — Three people were killed and five injured in a highway crash that shut down portions of Interstate 94 in Minneapolis for hours on Sunday, the Minnesota State Patrol said.

State Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske said the three-vehicle crash happened shortly after 1 p.m. Sunday on northbound Interstate 94 at 49th Avenue.

Roeske said all of the victims were in a minivan that overturned. He said several occupants of the van were thrown from the vehicle.

He did not elaborate on the ages of the victims or their relationships to each other. He said authorities were still trying to establish the victims’ identities and notify family members.

Roeske said the five injured people were all expected to survive. The occupants of the other two vehicles were not injured, he said.

He said authorities planned to issue more information Monday.

The northbound lanes of the interstate were closed Sunday afternoon while a crash reconstruction team investigated, Roeske said. Although the probe is not complete, he said investigators do not believe alcohol or drugs played a role.

Roeske said authorities believe the minivan driver was wearing a seat belt, but those who were thrown from the vehicle by the impact likely were not wearing their seat belts or, if they were, did not have them fastened properly.

“But we are still establishing those facts,” he said.

WCCO Radio host Steve Thompson was heading to work on Sunday when he came across the accident, before emergency responders had arrived. He described the horrific scene on air.

“A couple of people who had been ejected from the vehicle were still alive, but at least three were dead,” Thompson said. He said he grabbed a tarp out of the back of his truck and covered up a woman who was deceased.