Car crosses I-94 in Woodbury, killing 1 in head-on crash

  • Article by: Star Tribune
  • Updated: June 11, 2010 - 8:12 PM

A car crossed a wide median on Interstate 94 in Woodbury and ran into a pickup truck heading in the other direction Friday morning, killing the car's driver, leaving two others critically hurt and backing up rush-hour traffic into Wisconsin for about two hours, the State Patrol said.

Killed in the head-on crash on rain-drenched westbound I-94 near Manning Avenue was Ralph L. Woodworth, 76, of Lima, Ohio.

His wife, Erma J. Woodworth, 74, was taken to Regions Hospital in St. Paul with critical injuries, the patrol said. Also critically hurt and taken to Regions was the pickup's driver, Randy D. Russell, 49, of Houlton, Wis. Russell's condition was later upgraded to serious.

Ralph Woodworth's small sedan was heading east on I-94, near the Lake Elmo-Woodbury border, when it crossed the median into westbound traffic and struck the pickup head-on in the right lane, according to the patrol.

Investigators could find no indication that Ralph Woodworth fell asleep at the wheel or that the crash resulted from driving on wet pavement, said Lt. Eric Roeske of the State Patrol. The investigation was considered "very preliminary" because the patrol has been unable to interview Erma Woodworth, he said.

"As far as what occurred in the vehicle before the crash, we don't know at this point," he said. Heavy rain that fell in the east metro started after the crash.

That stretch of freeway, one of the busiest in the metro, doesn't have a cable barrier in the median. It's wide enough that to cross it "would take some doing to get over there," said Roeske, who until recently was assigned to patrol that area.

The Woodworths and Russell were wearing seat belts, he said.

PAUL WALSH AND KEVIN GILES

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