MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A fatal accident in the Lowry Tunnel on Interstate 94, involving a semi, brought traffic to a standstill during the morning commute Wednesday morning.
The Minnesota State Patrol said a semi carrying scrap auto parts was heading west on I-94 when he hit a light pole at the entrance of the tunnel. That forced the semi to overturn and sent the trailer into the eastbound lanes, trapping the driver of the semi under the truck.
The State Patrol said the driver, 62-year-old Glen Johnson, ofColfax,Wis., was killed on impact. Authorities said he was wearing a seat belt and they don’t believe drugs or alcohol played a factor in the accident. The trailer Johnson was hauling belonged to Toy Transport, and the truck he was driving belonged to American Express Transportation.
A friend of Johnson’s recalled his Christian values and work ethic.
“You know, he always came in with a smile on his face. Just a real nice guy, easy to get along with. Just a good old boy. Real dedicated,” said Tom Toy.
The cab of the truck separated, sending it into the westbound lanes while the trailer and its contents scattered into the eastbound lanes.
“As tragic as it is, with the volume of traffic at that time of the morning, we’re very lucky that someone didn’t hit that trailer square,” said Lt. Eric Roeske with the Minnesota State Patrol.
No one else was injured in the accident, but three other vehicles were hit with debris during the crash. One of those drivers was next to the semi during the crash and recalled engines flying through the air coming straight at her. She prayed, and she survived.
The semi blocked two eastbound lanes of I-94, forcing the road to close and traffic to be detoured onto city streets. Eastbound I-94 was reopened around noon. Westbound I-94 was also closed for several hours but was reopened around 9:30 a.m.
“It’s horrible. It’s completely backed up in both directions. It’s just a parking lot in 94,” said one driver stuck in the congestion.
“It hasn’t been this bad in a long time,” said another driver.
During the closure, the State Patrol advised motorists to find alternate routes. The eastbound tunnel was closed for several hours while crews cleaned up and reconstructed the accident.
Considering the time, place and circumstances of the crash, authorities are surprised the situation wasn’t worse.
“When you look at the way the debris scattered, we have a truck laying sideways blocking three lanes of probably the busiest freeway at the busiest time of the day, it’s truly amazing that someone else wasn’t hurt or killed and that very easily could have happened,” Roeske said.