Three people were hurt, including one driver who had to be flown to a Twin Cities hospital, after a three-car crash outside of Paul Bunyan Land amusement park near Brainerd on Tuesday, June 8.
According to the Minnesota State Patrol's report, a Lincoln Navigator and Chevy Equinox were traveling westbound on Highway 18 as a Buick LeSabre was going eastbound.
The Navigator stopped to turn into Paul Bunyan Land when the Equinox hit the Navigator from behind, pushing it into the eastbound lane of Highway 18 where the LeSabre hit it head-on, the report said.
The crash happened in Nokay Lake Township just before 6 p.m., during an after-hours Brainerd Lakes Chamber of Commerce event at Paul Bunyan Land.
Chamber President Matt Kilian said they were interviewing business owners Alan Rademacher and Lois Moon with about 100 people in attendance when they heard the crash from the stage area.
"We assumed it was a minor accident in the parking lot," Kilian said. "Immediately after the interview, we watched their close family friend being extracted from her vehicle and airlifted to North Memorial Hospital."
The 73-year-old driver of the LeSabre was taken to North Memorial in Robbinsdale with non-life threatening injuries, the State Patrol's report says. According to Kilian, she "suffered multiple fractures but is in stable condition and responsive after overnight surgery."
The two other drivers in the crash were not seriously injured. The 27-year-old woman driving the Equinox suffered non-life threatening injuries and wasn't taken to a health care facility, while the 57-year-old woman who was driving the Navigator suffered non-life threatening injuries and was taken to Cuyuna Range Hospital, the State Patrol's report notes.
Kilian described the aftermath of the crash as "incredibly tense and terrifying."
"We extend our most sincere thanks and gratitude to our local first responders, police officers and firefighters. They arrived at the scene within minutes, acted quickly, and saved her life," Kilian said. "Our community is very fortunate to have such dedicated men and women who choose to serve in these professions."
Kilian noted the interview he was doing was being recorded and they have since deleted it from the chamber's Facebook page (they did not capture any video of the crash). The chamber plans to reshoot the interview "at a more appropriate time."