New Richland man dies in crash off I-35 into Straight River

Published 2:07 am Tuesday, March 26, 2019

A 71-year-old New Richland man died Monday after the pickup he was driving broke through a guardrail on Interstate 35 and crashed into the Straight River south of Owatonna.

Emergency crews searched the river for several hours before finding the man Monday evening.

The man was identified early Tuesday morning as Ray Eldon Mudgett.

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According to the Minnesota State Patrol, Mudgett was traveling in a 2013 Toyota Tundra southbound on Interstate 35 near the Straight River rest area when the crash occurred at 12:43 p.m.

The pickup was completely submerged in water when emergency personnel arrived, and the man was deceased. He was the sole occupant of the vehicle.

Information about what might have led Mudgett to leave the roadway has not yet been released. The State Patrol report indicates he was wearing his seat belt, and alcohol was not a factor.

The roadway was dry at the time of the crash.

I-35 was reduced to one lane as authorities searched the river.

The Minnesota State Patrol was assisted on the scene by the Steele County Sheriff’s Office, Owatonna Fire Department, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources and the Rice County Dive Team.