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Sunday's crash claims third victim, fourth also 'critical'; services today for Stillwater couple

A Prescott man died overnight at Regions Hospital in St. Paul as a result of injuries suffered in a head-on crash last Sunday on Hwy. 35 south of Prescott.

Randy J. Tape, 51, had been transported by helicopter from the scene along with his passenger, 53-year-old Tammy A. Decker, of Hastings, Minn.

Although Regions has declined to acknowledge whether Decker is a patient at the hospital, Trooper Bill Traynor said early Thursday that she too remains in critical condition.

The federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act requires that health care providers keep patient information secret but the rule does not apply to law enforcement agencies when individuals are involved in motor vehicle accidents.

Meanwhile, the husband and wife from Stillwater who died were to be laid to rest Thursday in Cottage Grove, Minn.

The funeral service for victims Richard and Irene Skare of Stillwater was scheduled for noon, Thursday at St. Luke's Lutheran Church. The couple were aged 72 and 71, respectively.

A published obituary noted that the Skares were longtime employees at 3M. The couple had been married 54 years, enjoyed global travel, spending time with friends and attending activities of their 10 grandchildren. The couple, who had four children, also had three great-grandchildren.

Traynor, who revisited the scene for some additional measurements Wednesday afternoon, described Sunday's head-on crash as "horrific".

Traynor's investigation indicated the northbound Skare vehicle -- a 2008 Chevrolet Malibu -- was over the Hwy. 35 centerline when it struck Tape's southbound 1994 Chevrolet Lumina. The accident happened about three-quarters of a mile north of the intersection with Pierce County Highway QQ.

There were no skid marks to indicate Richard Skare had swerved and no immediate evidence of him having suffered a medical problem or having been distracted before the crash.

An autopsy on Skare was conducted by the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office at the request of deputy Pierce County Medical Examiner John Worsing but Traynor didn't hint that it offered any conclusions.

Data from a diagnostic module on Skare's car still needs to be downloaded to see whether there may have been a mechanical problem.

"We'll rule out as much as we can but as I told the family, we know what happened but we may never know why it happened," said Traynor.

A blood sample was taken from Tape but Traynor said that is now standard procedure with any fatal accident under provisions newly enacted Act 163. There was no indication that Tape was doing anything wrong, he said.