MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A paramedic is dead after an ambulance hit a stalled semi-truck on Interstate 694 Monday night in the north metro.
Today, we’re getting the identities of the victims involved.
According to the Minnesota State Patrol, the semi-truck was stalled near the split of Interstate 694 and Interstate 94 in Brooklyn Center. A HealthEast ambulance was merging from I-694 to I-94 when the driver hit the semi.
The driver of the ambulance has been identified as 27-year-old Susanna Grace Kelly. She was taken to North Memorial Hospital with non-life threatening injuries. The ambulance’s passenger was 24-year-old Marina Gayledeste Challeen. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Today, our Reg Chapman had a chance to sit down with Challeen’s family.
“She loved working with people, meeting people,” said Nancy DeSteno, Challeen’s aunt.
Family and friends of Marina Challeen say all she ever wanted to do was help others, and she was doing that by working as first responder and EMT for HealthEast.
“She really enjoyed being an EMT. She loved that job, but her ultimate goal was to be a doctor. Go to med school, be at Doctor’s Without Borders and help more people,” DeSteno said.
Her dreams were cut short Monday night. The ambulance she was a passenger in collided with a semi-truck that had stalled in the apex of I-694 and I-94 near Shingle Creek Parkway.
“The ambulance came from the 694 side and attempted to merge across the apex and subsequently struck the back of a semi. The major impact happened on the front passenger side,” Sara DePaul with the State Patrol said.
Challeen died on the scene, but her family says her spirit lives on.
“Just her presence. Just her being there, her happiness, her smile. Any picture you look at of her, she’s smiling this big happy smile even if maybe she didn’t feel that way quite on the inside she would put on a happy face for you,” DeSteno said.
Her older sister, Miranda, shared a picture of her taken minutes before the crash. She says her sister was a caretaker who had a love of helping and healing people. Miranda says she can’t say goodbye to someone like her sister Marina. She was accepting of people for who they were, loked for the best in everybody and loved to share and celebrate that best. You can’t say goodbye to that, all we can do is extend it to each other.
The 44-year-old female driver of the semi truck was uninjured. She was identified as Paulette Alicia Mejia of Temple, Georgia.