Dry I-35, 3 dead in head-on crash: Why?:A pickup inexplicably crossed the I-35 median and crashed head-on, killing a Chanhassen father and son and the pickup's driver, a Wyoming, Minn., man
By: By Anthony Lonetree and Paul Walsh, Minneapolis Star Tribune, Superior Telegram
State Patrol investigators still were trying to determine Monday why an 18-year-old man lost control of a pickup truck on a straight, sunny stretch of Interstate 35 Sunday before crossing the median and colliding head-on with a car -- killing a Chanhassen man and his son, 4.
By late Monday afternoon, the pickup's driver, Eric P. Sprouse, of Wyoming, Minn., was dead, too.
He was traveling north on I-35 just north of the Hwy. 8 overpass in Forest Lake on Sunday when he crossed the median and crashed into a Toyota Camry carrying James Jude Holland, 45, and his son, Jude, 4, both of Chanhassen. Both father and son died at the scene.
They were headed home after a "weekend with the boys" on a northern Minnesota lake, said Brenda Perreault, James Holland's sister-in-law.
Holland grew up in Aurora, Minn., not far from where he and Jude had been vacationing, Perreault said. He graduated from what is now Minnesota State University, Mankato, with a degree in finance and worked in sales for a major electronics company, the family said.
Holland was wearing a seat belt, and Jude, his only child, was secured in a car seat, investigators said. No one else was in the car.
The crash happened about 11 a.m. Sunday after Sprouse "lost control" of his Chevy K1500 truck, patrol spokesman Capt. Matt Langer said Monday. "But exactly why he did -- we don't know," he added. Sprouse died Monday at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale, where he was flown after the wreck.
A passenger in his pickup, Dustin W. Covey, 20, suffered non-life-threatening injuries. Neither Sprouse nor Covey were wearing seat belts, and Sprouse was thrown from the truck, police said.
The crash closed southbound I-35 between the Wyoming and Forest Lake exits for about four hours, causing a major traffic backup.
At least three other people have died in recent months in other accidents along the stretch of I-35 between the Lino Lakes/Hugo area north to Forest Lake.
But Langer said Sunday's accident could not be attributed to highway design.
"It was a perfect day," he said. "Sun. No wind. Straight road."
Kent Barnard, spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, said the large median also should provide a wayward driver with "a lot of room for recovery."
Elsewhere in the metro area, where the medians are narrower, traffic speeds are high and reports show high numbers of median-crossing crashes ending in fatalities and serious injuries, MnDOT has been installing high-tension cable barriers, Barnard said.
He didn't know Monday if there were any plans to run cables along I-35 in Washington County.
-- Copyright (c) 2009, Star Tribune, Minneapolis/Distributed by McClatchy-Tribune Information Services.