The victims’ names and the cause of the crash were not released Sunday evening, but all of the dead and injured had been in a 2000 Toyota Sienna, which sat destroyed on the side of the highway near the 49th Avenue exit Sunday afternoon. Two other vehicles, a 2011 Jeep Patriot and a 2003 Honda Odyssey, also were moderately damaged in the crash.
North Memorial Medical Center said three of the victims, including one child, remained in critical condition Sunday night. One person was listed in serious condition. A spokesman for the State Patrol, Lt. Eric Roeske, said the injured victims were expected to survive.
“There appeared to be somewhat minor contact between the vehicles, and the vehicle that had the eight occupants, as a result of the contact, kind of lost control and rolled,” Roeske said Sunday night.
A group of about 40 people came to North Memorial Sunday night to visit the victims, who were described as members of the Twin Cities Nigerian community. They had just attended services at New Wine Church in south Minneapolis and were returning home.
Visitors to the hospital said the crash killed an 84-year-old grandmother; her daughter, who was about 40, and a 15-year-old. The 40-year-old’s husband was driving the car, they said.
Tony Oliha, pastor of New Wine Church, had little to say immediately about the crash, but confirmed that the victims had been at his church. “I’m just trying to put the pieces together myself,” Oliha said.
The crash, which occurred just after 1 p.m., forced officials to close a westbound segment of the highway until 4:30 p.m. Kent Barnard, a spokesman for the Minnesota Department of Transportation, said traffic was slowed as far away as the Lowry Hill Tunnel near downtown.
Roeske said the cause of the accident remains under investigation by a crash reconstruction team. “Alcohol and drugs, we don’t believe are a factor,” Roeske said. He added that some of the victims were ejected from the vehicle.
Staff writer Jim Adams contributed to this report. firstname.lastname@example.org 612-673-1732