A driver attempting to pass another vehicle near the State Fairgrounds on Snelling Avenue in the early morning darkness Tuesday crossed the centerline and collided head-on with a driver heading in the opposite direction, killing both drivers, St. Paul Police said.

The motorists were the lone occupants of the two vehicles involved, said police department spokesman Sgt. Mike Ernster.

A motorist heading northbound on Snelling Avenue near Midway Parkway around 3 a.m. told police that another driver came up behind him "very quickly" and tried to pass. That driver, a man, strayed into the southbound lane and struck a southbound minivan. The female driver of the minivan and the male driver both died at the scene, police said.

A second witness corroborated the motorist's account, Ernster said.

Authorities shut down Snelling between Larpenteur Avenue and Midway Parkway for about 3 hours as a crash reconstruction team mapped out the incident.

"We're trying to find out if there was anything leading up to the action," Ernster said.

Crews cleared the wreckage and reopened Snelling Avenue around 6:30 a.m.

The names of the victims were not released. Police are still investigating.