DAYTON, Minn. (WCCO) — A horrific head-on crash happened in the thick of the morning rush hour as commuters driving eastbound along Interstate 94 were beginning their work days.
But at around 6:30 a.m. as they drove just east of Highway 101, or Brockton Lane, a delivery truck jumped the median and struck five vehicles head-on.
“The truck entered the median at such an angle that it vaulted upward. It did strike the top of the barrier, but not the entire cable barrier,” St. Patrol Lt. Tiffani Nielson said.
A 2016 Freightliner box truck, driven by John Houdyshell of St. Louis Park, struck a 2018 Silverado head-on, killing its 40 year-old driver, Kevin Allen Parker of Monticello. He was a married father of two boys.
The truck then plowed into Robyn Grebinoski of Otsego, who was a passenger in her husband’s Kia Optima on their way to work.
A nurse who was on the scene performed CPR on the mother of two, who was then airlifted in critical condition to North Memorial when emergency crews arrived.
The truck driver, Houdyshell, told state troopers that he was alert at the time of the crash, but possibly suffered some unknown medical condition. No alcohol was detected in any of the drivers.
“It will involve some medical exam by doctors to confirm what he said occurred,” Lt. Nielson said.
According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, high tension steel cable barriers have been installed along Minnesota’s highways beginning in 2004. They are about one-third the cost of concrete walls, and are designed to prevent such crossover crashes.
Obviously, the barrier did not work in this case, likely because the truck vaulted over the top and made only partial contact with one of the four cables.
“Clearly it is not fail safe — they are designed to stop cars, automobiles, and they will stop larger vehicles,” Kevin Gutknecht with MnDOT said.
Eastbound traffic was diverted for nearly six hours, snarling the morning commute. An unfortunate, but necessary closure to allow emergency crews the time and space to cleared the scene and investigators to search for answers.