Redwood Falls man dies, 7 injured in crash

  • Article by: MAURA LERNER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 25, 2011 - 12:09 PM

A 29-year-old Redwood Falls, Minn., man was killed and his father was in critical condition Saturday after a 15-year-old driving an SUV reportedly ran a red light, triggering a four-vehicle crash in Kandiyohi County.

The victim was identified as Justin R. Gustafson. His father, John Gustafson, 50, also of Redwood Falls, was airlifted to Hennepin County Medical Center, according to the Minnesota State Patrol. He was listed Sunday as being in satisfactory condition.

Witnesses said that a Ford SUV ran a red light and broadsided a pickup truck, which spun into oncoming traffic and rolled over two other vehicles, including the Gustafsons' Lincoln Town Car. The accident occurred shortly before noon at the intersection of Hwys. 7 and 71 south of Willmar.

Jaimie Hegg, 34, of Olivia, Minn., said she watched in horror as the truck bounced off the Town Car and went airborne in front of the Volkswagen in which she was riding. "I thought it was going to smash us," she said. "I just braced and thought 'how bad is this going to hurt.'" The truck only grazed the car, however, and no one in her car was injured, she said. "We were extremely fortunate." She said one of her friends tried to rescue people from the other vehicles.

Six people, including the 15-year-old and Patricia Gustafson, John Gustafson's wife, were taken to nearby Rice Memorial Hospital with injuries that were not life-threatening, said Lt. Paul VanVoorhis of the State Patrol.

The teenager, who is from Milbank, S.D., was driving the SUV with two passengers, a woman and an 11-year-old girl, who were also among the injured.

VanVoorhis declined to name the teenager, who had a valid driver's license, noting that he is a juvenile and "there's a potential that he could be charged." South Dakota grants driver's licenses to teenagers as young as 14 years old.

Three others in the fourth vehicle, a Volkswagen Beetle, were not injured, VanVoorhis said.

Officials said there was no indication that weather was a factor in the accident.

Maura Lerner • 612-673-7384

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