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After 4 squad cars are hit – one at 60 mph – State Patrol asks drivers to be careful

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Police are urging Minnesota's drivers to be more cautious after four squad cars were involved in crashes during blizzard conditions seen over the past 24 hours.

The squad cars were themselves involved in collisions, as they were hit by other vehicles while at crash scenes, prompting a plea for drivers to drive carefully in the wintry conditions, particularly near emergency scenes.

Trooper Kristie Hathaway described her lucky escape at a press conference Friday morning.

Her car was rear-ended by a vehicle traveling 60 mph, as she sat on I-494, blocking a lane so a tow truck could remove a crashed vehicle.

"I put my vehicle into drive thinking I could move out of the way, but realized it would not provide safety for the tow truck driver, so I stayed in the lane. ... My squad car says it all. I didn't really grasp how much of an impact there was until I saw it again in the daylight."

She said that visibility on the road was poor at the time. But there may have been more at play as well, as the driver of the car that rear-ended Trooper Hathaway was arrested on suspicion of DWI and criminal vehicular operation.

The Pioneer Press reports the troopers were hit in different parts of the state: athaway's incident was on westbound Interstate 494 in Mendota Heights; then there was one on westbound Minnesota 19 near Marshall; westbound Minnesota 135 near Virginia; and westbound I-94 in Minneapolis.

Overall, it was a dangerous day on the roads Thursday.

The Minnesota State Patrol says its troopers have responded to 855 total crashes since 11.30 a.m. Thursday as motorists struggled to cope with the dangerous road conditions created by a mixture of snow, ice and wind that affected large areas of the state.

Of the 855 accidents, one fatality has been reported. Just before 11 a.m. Friday, a Jeep Liberty driving south on Highway 61 lost control and went into the northbound lanes, where it was broadsided by a Dodge Ram, according to the State Patrol. The 50-year-old driver was killed.

The road conditions were listed as icy.

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