High school senior fighting for life after crash on icy road splits pickup in half


A high school senior is fighting for her life after a crash caused when she hit a patch of ice tore her pickup truck in half.

Jessica Erickson, 18, was on her way to school Thursday morning when her Chevrolet Colorado slid on the ice and crossed into the westbound lane of 11th Avenue in Forest Lake, Minnesota, where it was T-boned by a Volvo SUV, FOX 9 reports.

The impact caused her pickup to split in half, with the cab flipping over. The Forest Lake Area High School student was airlifted to North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale, underwent surgery, and remains in a critical condition.

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Police in Forest Lake told KARE 11 conditions on the bridge at the time of the crash were like an "ice-skating rink" and said it should serve as a reminder to other drivers of the dangerous conditions created by winter.

Police Capt. Greg Weiss described the crash as one of the most serious he's seen in his career, telling the Pioneer Press: "I haven't seen a pickup truck like that separate from a mid-speed crash."

The driver of the Volvo, Catherine Walker, 53, suffered non-life-threatening injuries in the collision, according to the State Patrol. While summer months are the deadliest on Minnesota roads, wintertime leads to the most crashes and poses safety risks and hazards.

Erickson is a player on the Forest Lake Rangers varsity basketball team, according to the Forest Lake Times, and her family, friends and the wider community are now praying for a full recovery.

Winter road safety

The accident comes after temperatures dropped this week and Minnesota saw its first signs of snow, prompting authorities to issues safety advice to drivers.

The Minnesota Department of Public Safety has a checklist of advice for drivers using their cars during wintry weather, which advises people to:

  • Avoid unnecessary journeys in poor conditions.
  • Make sure everyone is wearing their seatbelt.
  • Drive at safe speeds tailored towards the road conditions.
  • Keep at least five car-lengths behind snow plows.
  • Ease off the gas if skidding and steer in the direction you want the vehicle to go.
  • Clear snow and ice from windows, the hood, lights and indicators.
  • Use headlights when it is snowing or sleeting.
  • Avoid using cruise control on snowy, icy or wet roads.

Drivers are also encouraged to have a winter survival kit in their car, which should include the following:

  • A warm coat or blanket, and warm winter boots.
  • A flashlight with extra batteries and an ice scraper.
  • A shovel.
  • Signal flares, reflective triangles or strobe lights
  • Jumper cables, a bag of sand, and a tow rope.
  • A first-aid kit.
  • High-energy food such as chocolate or energy bars.
  • A fully-charged cellphone.

The Star Tribune reports the Minnesota Department of Transportation has changed the way it describes road conditions for drivers planning trips.

Descriptions like good, fair, difficult and hazardous have been scrapped, the newspaper reports, and replaced with clearer terms of: normal, partially covered, completely covered, travel not advised, and closed. Here are explanations of each term.

You can find real-time road conditions on the Minnesota 511 website.

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