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Bulgarian weightlifting champion killed in Mendota Heights crash

Antonio Krastev was a a two-time world weightlifting champ.

The man killed in a fatal Twin Cities car crash last week has been identified as a former weightlifting champion from Bulgaria.

Antonio Krastev, 58, died early Thursday morning on Highway 13 in Mendota Heights, after being ejected from his vehicle as it rolled off the road.

According to a State Patrol incident report, the GMC Yukon ran a red light at Highway 55, then failed to negotiate a curve, crossing the median into oncoming traffic before leaving the road. 

Krastev, who was not wearing a seatbelt, was pinned under his vehicle as a result. Authorities believe alcohol was a factor in the crash.

On its website, the Bulgarian Weightlifting Federation describes Krastev as "one of the greatest Bulgarian weightlifters," and says he was a "two-time world (Södertale 1985 and Sofia 1986) and two-time European (Karl-Marx-Stadt 1986 and Reims 1987) champion" in his sport. 

The federation also says the American magazine Power Lift once called him "The Strongest Man on the Planet." 

According to their report on his death, Krastev moved to North America in 1991, operating a weightlifting club at the University of Toronto for a time before moving to Minnesota, where he opened a private weightlifting club and "recently worked as a truck driver."

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