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Pickup Driver In Little Canada Bar Crash Identified; Bar Rebuilding

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – The woman whose pickup truck smashed through a wall Wednesday and pinned patrons against a bar in Little Canada has been identified.

The Ramsey County Sheriff’s Office said 49-year-old Christine Elise Spiritwolf, of Fridley, was driving the pickup at the time of the incident, which left six people (including herself) injured. The bar her pickup smashed through was Gordie’s Place, located at 201 Little Canada Road East.

Preliminary indications show the cause of the crash was due to a diabetic condition, the Sheriff’s Office said.

The crash happened shortly after 1:30 p.m. as Spiritwolf was driving east on Little Canada Road. Her pickup crossed the road’s westbound lanes, knocked over a power pole, crashed through the bar’s west wall and slammed into four people at the bar, pinning them against and behind it.

Spiritwolf was treated and released from a hospital Wednesday. Moreover, everyone injured inside the bar survived, although two of the victims are still in the hospital with broken limbs, in fair condition.

Pat Sazenski, a bartender at Gordie’s Place, said it’s amazing that everyone survived.

“We thought they had passed on,” he said. “And then when they were all alive; it was just unbelievable.”

Those who were inside and near the bar rushed to turn off the pickup’s engine and anything in the bar that might have caused an explosion. The pickup was leaking gas.

On Thursday, the bar’s owners dealt with the damage. The hole in the wall is covered, but the clocks are still stuck at the time of the crash.

Jim Cossack, son of owner Tom Cossack, said the bar sustained more damage than was originally thought.

But while the damage to the building is more extensive than expected, the damage to patrons is just the opposite.

“We should have been finding body parts instead of people walking out,” Cossack said.

Sazenski, the bartender, said he keeps watching the surveillance video and wondering how it all happened. He was at the other end of the bar, talking to Chuck Belland, when the pickup came smashing through.

Belland had hernia surgery a week-and-a-half ago; but the surveillance video shows how quickly he raced to get to the truck.

Belland helped pull the truck off the people, helping Jim Cossack with a Bobcat that had been parked in the back parking lot. And he admits that he’s still in shock.

“I slept in hour-and-a-half intervals,” he said. “I was waking up, thinking I can’t believe I’m still alive. I can’t believe everybody’s still alive.”

Tom Cossack now thinks it will be weeks before they can reopen.

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