Families ID two in SUV who died in crash near CambridgeCAMBRIDGE, MINN. — The driver of the SUV and his passenger, among the six people killed in a fiery head-on crash over the weekend near Cambridge, were identified Monday by the families of both men.
By: By: Paul Levy, Paul Walsh and Abby Simons, Minneapolis Star Tribune , Superior Telegram
CAMBRIDGE, MINN. — The driver of the SUV and his passenger, among the six people killed in a fiery head-on crash over the weekend near Cambridge, were identified Monday by the families of both men.
Driving was Joshua Netzel, 24, of Sandstone, and with him was friend Aaron Neuschwander, 23, of Mora, Minn., when they struck a Pontiac Grand Am driven by Sabrina Schumacher, 16.
While authorities have not officially confirmed either identity, the mother of Netzel’s 6-year-old daughter said he was the driver early Sunday of the Olds Bravada that was left a charred shell.
On Netzel’s MySpace page he describes his teenage troubles with drinking and drugs, but noted, “I had just turned 18 when the best thing happened. The girl I was with gave me my first child.”
Neuschwander’s cousin Tori Ruehling, of Faribault, Minn., said he was the father of three daughters, all younger than 6. He recently had some scrapes with the law, but he was on probation and putting his life back together, Ruehling said. He lived with his parents, worked in a factory, had his daughters nearly every weekend and was optimistic about his future, he told Ruehling last week.
Though authorities said Sunday that an odor of alcohol was detected in the Grand Am driven by Schumacher, State Patrol spokesman Lt. Eric Roeske said it may take weeks to determine who, if anyone, was drinking.
“We also want to be very careful to say we do not know where that odor came from, and there were five people in that car,” he said. “It certainly could have been a situation where the driver had not been drinking, and there was also a 21-year-old in there. Time will tell, but early in the investigation I don’t want to paint the whole group with a broad brush.”
Roeske said Schumacher, who remains hospitalized, has not yet been interviewed by investigators. A blood sample was taken that would determine the presence of alcohol.
Because of the condition of Netzel’s remains, it may not be possible to conduct toxicology tests, Roeske said.
Meanwhile, students and staff are dealing with their grief at Cambridge-Isanti High School, where some of those killed attended.
“Our community has suffered a huge loss,” said Principal Mitch Clausen. “We are working through our grief supporting students, families, friends in any way we can. ... Each of these young people had strengths and qualities that touched our lives and will be dearly missed.”
Clausen said grief counselors are at the school in the commons area.
Authorities continue their investigation into how the 1998 Pontiac Grand Am and 2000 Olds Bravada collided on the center line of a highway early Sunday.
Four of the five young people in the car, all from Cambridge, were killed: Kelsee Blackledge, 15; Travis Buchan, 17; Travis Gryczowski, 21; and Tres Kendryna-Whitefeather, 16.
The fifth, Schumacher, remained in serious condition Monday at Hennepin County Medical Center. She could face criminal charges, according to the patrol. The vehicle smelled of alcohol, and Schumacher was violating two age-related driving restrictions, the patrol said.
Sunday’s crash brought to 11 the number of deaths in crashes on Minnesota roads since last Monday. In every case, teenagers were driving.