KSTP-TV morning traffic reporter Sam Ryan is accustomed to reporting on crashes on metro-area freeways, but Monday morning he got much closer to the action than normal.
Ryan, who also is a Channel 5 weather forecaster, was on his way to the station at 3:30 a.m. when he saw headlights coming right for him as he made his way along eastbound Interstate 394 near the Dunwoody Boulevard exit in Minneapolis. Ryan dodged the wrong-way driver, who minutes later crashed into another car at Wirth Parkway and died.
The State Patrol said that a 30-year-old man from Clarks Grove, Minn., was driving westbound in the eastbound lanes and that after passing Ryan, he collided head-on with a vehicle driven by Carlos Floersch, 46, of Apple Valley.
The driver of the wrong-way vehicle was pronounced dead at the scene. Floersch was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center "with significant but survivable injuries," said Lt. Tiffani Nielson.
"It was kind of freaky," said Ryan, who may have been the last person to see the wayward motorist alive. "I saw headlights coming at me and started thinking 'What am I doing wrong? Am I dozing off at the wheel?' In a microsecond I realized this was a dangerous situation and moved to the right."
Ryan honked his horn and then used his cellphone to call 911.
When he got to the TV station, he learned about the fatal wreck that had all of the eastbound lanes closed for almost 3 hours until they reopened around 6:15 a.m.
"It's bizarre to have a personal connection to what I was reporting on," said Ryan, who has observed more than a few drunken drivers while commuting in to work his early morning shifts. "That's why you keep your cellphone nearby."