A Lakeville mother says she’s putting aside her anger over the wrong-way crash caused by an unlicensed driver that killed her son, choosing instead to channel her emotions and strength toward her daughter who is hospitalized with severe injuries from the same collision.
“I’ve got to get one of them home,” Gena Fried said Monday, before heading for HCMC to see 25-year-old Alaura Fried, the lone survivor of the crash Saturday night on Interstate 35W in Richfield that killed 27-year-old Tyler Fried and two of their friends.
“It was wonderful to get to hold her hand and see her,” said Gena Fried, who described her comatose daughter’s vital signs as “very strong” despite severe damage to her skull and other serious injuries. “I can’t be angry right now. I have to put all my energy into my kids.”
The State Patrol has yet to explain how Alfredo Torres, 21, of St. Paul, entered northbound 35W in a Nissan Murano and headed south until colliding with a northbound GMC Terrain near 66th Street.
Emergency dispatch audio aired that night revealed Torres was first spotted going the wrong way 7 miles north of the crash scene at 35W and E. Franklin Avenue.
The Terrain’s driver, Briana M. Vazquez, 25, of Watertown, S.D.; and her fiancé, Hassan A. Abdul-Malik, 28, of Sioux Falls died in the crash along with Tyler Fried. The Fried siblings and Abdul-Malik had attended the University of South Dakota at the same time, and the friends were headed for a night out in Minneapolis.
Torres did not survive the collision.
The crash is the state’s deadliest since Aug. 2, 2019, when six people were killed on Interstate 90 east of Rochester. A wrong-way driver caused that two-vehicle collision as well.
In the past three years, Torres has been convicted of several traffic offenses in Minnesota, according to court records. They include drunken driving and being caught at least three times driving without a license or while it was suspended.
At the time of Saturday’s crash, Torres’ license had been revoked, a state Department of Public Safety official said Monday.
Col. Matt Langer of the State Patrol called Saturday’s wreck “a horrendous and preventable tragedy. There are no words that can ever fully make sense out of a senseless crash.”
Gena Fried said her two children, Vazquez and Abdul-Malik all got together at the Fried home and left shortly after 9:30 p.m. for Cowboy Jack’s in downtown Minneapolis. Another friend followed closely behind.
Then Gena Fried and her husband, Michael Fried heard from the patrol. Their son and his two friends had died less than 30 minutes after leaving the house.
“Tyler never made it to the hospital,” said Gena Fried, who was initially blocked from seeing her daughter in the emergency room, given concerns about COVID-19.
“I only saw her because a state trooper begged [hospital staff] for two minutes,” she said. “For me, I just needed to see her. I’m not going to see my son, so I needed to see her. Finally, they let me in the ER.”
Gena Fried said Alaura is getting the best care at HCMC, where “all the nurses are mommies. They put the phone up to her, so I can talk to her.”
The impact of the coronavirus pandemic brought much turmoil but also an unexpected touch of joy to the Fried household, Gena said.
The family had recently opened a spa in Eagan, and Alaura was running the business until it could no longer survive the state-imposed lengthy shutdown of personal-care outlets.
Tyler Fried also lost his job bartending and had to move back in with Mom and Dad, a reality that Gena admitted gave her pause at the time.
“We are so grateful for the three months we had with him,” she said.
In the hour or so before the collision, Gena Fried recalled, she saw her son and daughter dressed up for a night on the town with friends. It was the same night as Gena and Michael Fried’s 28th wedding anniversary.
“ ‘Looking all hot, you two,’ ” she remembered saying to them.
Gena said Tyler then “gave me a kiss and said, ‘Happy anniversary, Mama.’ ”