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Construction zone crash closes I94 Monday afternoon; sends 4 to hospital

BALDWIN -- Initial investigation indicates a semi tractor-trailer unit rear ended a minivan, Jeep Cherokee and two passenger cars that were stopped due to road construction on Interstate 94 mid-afternoon Monday. The accident sent four people to the Baldwin Hospital but apparently none were seriously injured.

The 3:03 p.m. crash closed westbound I94 between mile 17 and 18, prompting authorities to detour traffic from the Baldwin exit north on Hwy 63 to Hwy. 12, then west on 12 to Hammond, then south on County Road T and back to I-94. Some out of state travelers, unfamiliar with the route, were seen continuing on Hwy. 12 to Hudson.

One lane was reopened about 4:30 p.m. and the scene was cleared and both westbound lanes reopened at 6:10 p.m., the State Patrol reported.

The crash occurred when a westbound Freightliner driven by Larry Stoots, 59, of Burbank, Ill., rear-ended four vehicles stopped in the right westbound lane. Neither Stoots nor his passenger, 45-year-old Rebecca Stoots were injured. The Patrol noted he may be cited, pending investigation.

The first vehicle struck was a 2001 Jeep Cherokee driven by Lucille K. Norman, 56, of St. Paul. The vehicle was heavily damaged on the front, back and roof, apparently rolling over from the impact.

Struck next was a 2007 Toyota Avalon being driven by William L. Virgil, 78, of Marshall, Wis. Both Virgil and his passenger, Nell Virgil, 79, were wearing seat belts.

The Virgil car apparently then struck a 2000 Pontiac driven by James W. Rainey, 63, of Oakdale, Minn. Rainey's car then hit a 2002 Dodge Caravan driven by Susan M. Nystrom, 54, of Foreston, Minn. Neither Nystrom nor her passenger, Tim Nystrom, 52, were injured and both were also belted.

EMS personnel from Baldwin Ambulance responded along with units from United Fire, St. Croix County deputies, Baldwin Police and the State Patrol. The scene was cleared quickly by wreckers from Jerry's Towing and Day N' Nite Towing, the Patrol said.

The St. Croix County Highway Department also assisted with its portable digital signs.