A chunk of ice broke free from a semitrailer truck humming along Hwy. 36 in Roseville hours after Tuesday morning's snowfall, smacked into an SUV windshield and injured the trailing driver, authorities said Wednesday.

Jon McLaughlin, 44, of West St. Paul, came away with minor injuries and an obliterated windshield, the State Patrol said.

The semitrailer truck was heading west "at freeway speeds" in the left lane of Hwy. 36 near Snelling Avenue shortly after 3:30 p.m., said Patrol Lt. Tiffani Nielson.

McLaughlin was in the right lane and was just about to exit at Snelling when a sheet of ice flew off the semitrailer truck and struck the SUV's windshield, Nielson said.

McLaughlin managed to exit at Snelling, she said. The semi kept going and has yet to be located.

By law, drivers of vehicles must clear their windshield of snow and ice and have visibility front and rear.

Semis are not required to remove snow and ice from the top of the trailer. "However, they cannot lose their load or material that could cause an injury," Nielson said.

With plenty of snowy weather still possible this season, Nielson said that drivers "should be aware, especially when we have fluctuating temperatures, that larger vehicles — semis, even pickups with flat beds — have the potential to lose snow or ice. They should not follow too closely and try to remain aware."

Paul Walsh