Fiery crash in Golden Valley kills truck driver; flames thwart would-be rescuers

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: September 13, 2013 - 11:17 PM

Would-be rescuers were driven back by flames; door on truck was jammed shut.


A fatal traffic incident occurred shortly after rush hour Friday morning near a major intersection in Golden Valley.

Photo: Bruce Bisping, Star Tribune

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A minivan turned illegally at a busy Golden Valley intersection late Friday morning and was hit by a large truck coming from the other way in a collision that engulfed the larger vehicle in flames and killed its driver, Joseph W. Johnson, authorities said.

Johnson, 64, is from Le Sueur, Minn., according to the patrol.

The crash that ultimately involved four vehicles occurred about 10:35 a.m. at Hwy. 55 and Boone Avenue/General Mills Boulevard, according to the State Patrol. The side dump truck collided with the van, then hit and toppled a signal light post on one of the corners before catching fire.

Golden Valley police officers and bystanders tried to rescue Johnson “as flames engulfed the cab,” said Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske, but Johnson was trapped because the “door was jammed.”

The van was turning left from eastbound Hwy. 55 onto northbound Boone against a red turn arrow, when it was struck by the westbound truck, Roeske said.

The truck swerved but could not avoid the van, Roeske added.

The van’s driver, Shirley R. Knutson, 66, of Plymouth, was taken to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale and was in serious condition.

Two other vehicles at the intersection were slightly banged up by the vehicles in the initial collision, the patrol said. Those drivers were not hurt.

Traffic was slowed at the intersection for some time because the signal lights are out and have been replaced by four-way stop signs, the lieutenant added.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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