A long procession of ambulances Wednesday escorted the body of Marina G. DeSteno Challeen, an emergency medical technician who was killed while on duty this week in a crash in Brooklyn Center, from the medical examiner’s office in Minneapolis to a funeral home.
“Thank you for your service, Marina,” read a Facebook posting by Hennepin County’s emergency medical service, “we will take it from here.”
The string of nearly 30 vehicles, most of them HealthEast ambulances, left downtown with lights flashing as ambulances from other providers lined the curb. Some emergency personnel stood nearby, holding a salute throughout the midday tribute under gray skies as her body headed to a St. Paul funeral home.
Her family, making arrangements in anticipation of 1,500 attendees, chose St. Andrew’s Lutheran Church in Mahtomedi for next Wednesday’s services.
DeSteno Challeen, 24, of St. Paul, was a passenger in the ambulance when it struck a stalled semitrailer truck that was said to be “fully on the shoulder” about 7 p.m. Monday. A tow truck was with the big rig in the apex where Interstate 694 and I-94 split.
DeSteno Challeen died at the scene. Driver Susanna G. Kelly, 27, of Roseville, was hurt but not seriously. There was no patient on board.
DeSteno Challeen had been an EMT for about a year, said her aunt, Nancy DeSteno.
DeSteno said her niece earned a degree in anthropology from the University of Minnesota and “wanted to go to medical school but took EMT training instead.”
Neither the semi’s driver nor the tow truck operator were hurt in the crash.
The State Patrol’s Sara DuPaul said the ambulance was heading from Monticello to north Minneapolis without its emergency lights or siren engaged when it “attempted to merge across the apex and … struck the back of the semi.”
No citations have been issued in connection with the crash.