Two killed in crash involving AL man

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 1, 2003

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) &045; Two people were killed in a wrong-way accident on Interstate 94 in north Minneapolis, and authorities said the car that caused it, driven by an Albert Lea man, might have gone nearly four miles in the wrong lane before crashing into a van.

The car was exceeding the 55-mile-per-hour speed limit, according to investigators, and &uot;it’s safe to say that alcohol is suspected to be a contributing factor in this crash,&uot; said Kevin Smith, spokesman for the state Department of Public Safety.

Blood-alcohol tests were done but results were not immediately available, Smith said.

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The crash happened at 1:40 a.m. Tuesday. The driver of the van, Ngoc Thuy Le, 21, of Apple Valley, and her passenger, Nguyen Hoang Vu Nguyen, 21, of Crystal, both died. The car driver was a 24-year-old Albert Lea man identified by the Minneapolis Tribune as Daniel Ernesto Madrigal. He was hospitalized at North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale with minor injuries.

Smith said that Madrigal was driving north in the southbound lane of I-94 and that preliminary reports indicated that &uot;he got on the wrong way somewhere near downtown Minneapolis.&uot;

Head-on crashes, where one car is in the wrong lane, are fairly common in Minnesota, numbering several hundred annually and resulting in eight to 22 deaths each year from 1991 to 1999. But they’re rare on freeways, divided highways or one-way roads, according to a 2000 analysis by the Public Safety Department.

Freeway entrances commonly are marked with red &uot;wrong way&uot; signs, and &uot;it’s pretty darn hard to get going the wrong way on a major freeway,&uot; Smith said.