It was a deadly Wednesday on Hwy. 135 in northern Minnesota, where two people died in separate crashes just hours apart.

The first happened shortly after 2 p.m. when a southbound Ford Taurus crossed the centerline and collided head-on with a northbound Chevy Impala north of Aurora in St. Louis County, the State Patrol said.

Elias J. Cersine, 26, of Eveleth, the Impala driver, was killed. He was not wearing a seat belt, the patrol said. Ryan Patrick Hughes, 37, of Aurora, the Taurus driver, suffered noncritical injuries; he was wearing a seat belt.

About five hours later, first responders were called to a fatal three-vehicle crash on Hwy. 135 in Biwabik Township. Marilyn L. Kriner, 66, of Aurora, was driving east near milepost 12 when she crossed the centerline and sideswiped a westbound semitrailer truck about 6:50 p.m. Her Chevy Classic was then struck broadside by a westbound Toyota 4Runner, the State Patrol said.

Kriner, who was wearing a seat belt, died at the scene.

The semitrailer truck driver, identified as Todd Statsman, 40, of Eveleth, was not seriously hurt. The driver of the Toyota, Mary Michelle Walker, 48, of Hibbing, was airlifted to St. Mary's Hospital in Duluth, the patrol said.

Alcohol was not a factor in either crash, the patrol said.