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Nine people were involved in a fatal crash on a snow-covered central Minnesota highway Saturday.
According to the State Patrol incident report, a Mazda Tribute and Chevrolet Suburban were involved in the crash, which happened around 3 p.m. along Highway 65 in Aitkin County, just south of Highway 18 near McGrath.
The Mazda lost control on "wet and snowpacked" road while traveling south, and went sideways into the opposite lane. The Chevy collided with its side.
A total of nine people were involved – there were five occupants in the Suburban, including a toddler. All are from McGregor.
- The driver, 26-year-old Nicholas Meyer, suffered a serious injury and was taken to Firstlight Hospital in Mora.
- The 2-year-old child is listed as Meyer's son, and did not appear to suffer an injury. He was also taken to Firstlight however.
- A 22-year-old female, Sarah Sample, also suffered a serious injury and was taken to the same hospital.
- Keven Meyer, 25, is related to Nicholas Meyer – he was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center with a serious injury. The State Patrol says he was not wearing a seat belt.
- The final occupant, 21-year-old Amanda Christiansen, suffered non-life threatening injuries. She was taken to Firstlight.
Four others were involved in the crash, but the State Patrol has not released their identities or conditions. However, State Patrol Lt. Tiffani Nielson tweeted there were four fatalities.
More information is expected Sunday morning.
The road condition at the time was icy, the State Patrol initially said, though that later changed to snowpacked. Trained spotters reported near 3 inches of snow in parts of Aitkin County to the National Weather Service Saturday afternoon.
More than 200 crashes reported
It was the most serious of more than 200 crashes across Minnesota, after overnight snowfall that hit the Twin Cities and the southern portion of the state before continuing.
According to the Minnesota Department of Transportation, many roads were considered completely covered in the morning, and officials were reminding motorists to take things slow.
Nielson said there were 204 crashes statewide from midnight through 4:30 p.m. – 20 of those resulted injuries, in addition to the fatal accident in Aitkin County. There were 224 recorded vehicles off the road or spin outs.
Sgt. Jesse Grabow said troopers were responding to "several" accidents, including this one at I-94 near Ashby, Minnesota.
How are the roads now?
Plows were out in the a.m., MnDOT Director of Communications Kevin Gutknecht tweeted, and he sent out another reminder just before 2 p.m.
Here's a look at the situation as of about 2:15 p.m. – the pinkish-purple means the roads are considered fully covered; blue is partially covered, while green is normal.
Warnings and advisories
There's a winter storm warning in effect until 6 p.m. for the far southwest corner of the state (Rock, Pipestone, Lincoln, Lyon, Murray, Nobles, Cottonwood counties), plus a winter weather advisory for Jackson County. Expect blowing snow in the afternoon, though flakes should stop falling by the evening.
Then there's another warning in effect until 4 a.m. Sunday for Pine, Carlton, and southern St. Louis counties . The area could get 4-7 inches by the time it peters out early Sunday. "Plan on difficult driving conditions," the warning says. There's a winter weather advisory for the areas north and west of it.
There's still a hazardous weather outlook for all but the northwest corner of the state. Click here to punch in your address and see your exact area's warnings or advisories.
The NWS has a winter weather advisory in place, with FOX 9 reporting that accumulation could be as high as 8 inches in western Minnesota, around Marshall, when it's all said and done.
The heavier snowfall totals in the metro will be in the northern counties, including parts of Wright and Hennepin, with MnDOT saying the rest of the metro is likely to see at least 1-2 inches.
The Star Tribune reports that with the temperatures expected to climb toward freezing point Saturday afternoon, roads are expected to become slick and slushy.
Accuweather says driving conditions will be much more favorable on Sunday, which is expected to be dry but colder – with highs in the teens expected.