Authorities ID wrong-way driver who died in crash on Bong Bridge
Authorities on Saturday identified the wrong-way driver who died after causing a pair of freeway crashes in Duluth on Friday as a 77-year-old man from the Twin Cities metro area.
The Minnesota State Patrol said Dennis Edlund of Centerville, Minn., died after colliding with two vehicles while driving a Hyundai Sonata the wrong way in the Duluth-bound lanes of the Bong Bridge at about 5:15 p.m. Friday. That crash came moments after the wrong-way vehicle sparked a three-car crash in the northbound lanes of Interstate 35 near 27th Avenue West.
Edlund died at the scene of the Bong Bridge crash; he was not wearing a seat belt, the Patrol said. Two other people were injured in the crashes, none seriously, the Patrol reported.
The crash on the Bong Bridge closed the Duluth-bound lanes of the span linking Superior to West Duluth for about three hours.
Authorities did not provide further information Saturday on why Edlund was driving the wrong way on the freeway, or how far he had traveled south in the northbound lanes of I-35 before the initial crash.
According to information about the two crashes provided by the Patrol on Saturday:
The first crash happened at about 5:15 p.m. in the northbound lanes of I-35 near 27th Avenue West, when three vehicles collided while trying to avoid the wrong-way car. The Sonata did not make contact with any of three vehicles, the Patrol said.
Two people from one of those vehicles — a 45-year-old woman and 10-year-old girl, both from Robbinsdale, Minn. — were treated for non-life-threatening injuries at St. Luke's hospital, the Patrol said. Ten other people from among the three vehicles escaped injury; all 12 people in the three cars were wearing seat belts.
The second crash happened moments later on the Bong Bridge, near the center of the span. Edlund's Sonata struck a Dodge Ram pickup driven by a 63-year-old Duluth man and a Toyota RAV4 carrying a 38-year-old Superior man and two children, ages 5 and 9.
Edlund died at the scene of that crash; the occupants of the other two vehicles were wearing seat belts and were not injured.
Several witnesses who spoke with the News Tribune on Friday recounted seeing the wrong-way driver on I-35 and the Bong Bridge, and gave harrowing accounts of near-misses as they swerved out of the way of the rapidly approaching car.