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Man who died after car went into river struggled with substance abuse

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The 27-year-old Minneapolis college student who died after the car he was driving plunged into the Mississippi River Monday night was trying to turn his life around.

The Star Tribune reports Darron Luhrsen, a third-year ministry student at North Central University, was well-liked, charismatic and had good grades, but was overcoming substance abuse issues.

Luhrsen had two drunken-driving convictions and a robbery conviction on his record. He eventually sought treatment at Teen Challenge, a faith-based program, as an alternative to prison and eventually enrolled in college, the newspaper reported.

The Star Tribune talked to a woman with an eyewitness account of the events leading up Luhrsen's car going underwater. According to the witness, the car was swerving, hit a traffic signal and rear-ended a Jeep before crashing through a fence near the Stone Arch Bridge and going into the river.

The Hennepin County Sheriff's Office and county medical examiner are trying to determine if alcohol and drugs were involved, or if the crash was intentional or accidental.

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