MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — Two people were killed in a fiery crash following a police pursuit in the south Twin Cities metro area.
Apple Valley police initiated the chase at about 8:20 p.m. Monday, just 10 minutes after the driver sped from the scene of a Savage hit-and-run accident.
Burnsville police officers quickly joined in as the Chevy Astro van approached County Highway 5 and 131st Street, where the still-unidentified woman was turning from the southbound lane and was hit at a high rate of speed.
“This driver demonstrated complete disregard for the safety of others,” Minnesota State Patrol Chief Col. Matt Langer said. “The preliminary information is that [officers] were quite a distance behind, and in fact we don’t know that they actually witnessed the collision itself.”
The van slammed into a woman who was driving an SUV. The mother of five was just 100 yards from her home and was killed instantly.
The fleeing driver tore down power lines that ignited him in a ball of fire.
Jessica Udlinek had just pulled off the same highway and into her driveway when she heard all the sirens.
“It’s super sad, you know, it’s so close to home. We were just on the road, you know, 30 seconds before this … traveling down the same route the guy was going down, so it’s just really scary,” Udlinek said.
Police have strict guidelines on chases and when to call them off, but Apple Valley Police Chief John Rechtzigel says the officers were within policy.
“Law enforcement frequently will back off, they’ll gain ground when there’s clear roadways. But they’re always trying to show due regard, in the intersections they just don’t blast through them,” Rechtzigel said.
Col. Langer says the crash was avoidable.
“All it took was for the driver of that Chevy van to stop,” he said.
Xcel Energy reported the damaged power poles caused electricity to be cut to more than 300 customers in the area, which was restored shortly thereafter.