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Six lives lost in three hours

Four students from North Dakota State University were killed in a multi-vehicle crash west of Alexandria on Interstate 94 Monday afternoon. The crash happened at 3:05 p.m. near Highway 114 during a heavy snowfall Photo by Lowell Anderson.2 / 7
A two-vehicle crash on County Road 82 killed a 13-year-old girl on Monday.3 / 7
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In the space of three hours, six lives were lost in three separate crashes on snowy, slushy roads near Alexandria and Glenwood on Monday.

The first crash happened during a heavy snowfall at about 3:05 p.m. on Interstate 94 about three miles west of Alexandria.

Four female students from North Dakota State University died at the scene - the driver, Lauren Peterson, 18, of Prior Lake and passengers, Jordan Playle, 19, of Elk River, Megan Sample, 18, of Rogers and Danielle Renninger, 18, of Excelsior.

The four were reportedly traveling from the Twin Cities on their way back to school.

The students were westbound in a 2005 Chevrolet Malibu that crossed over the median and was broadsided by a 2008 Ford Expedition that was traveling east. Another eastbound vehicle, a 2007 Toyota Corolla, rear-ended the Expedition, according to the State Patrol.

Three others were hurt but their injuries were not considered life threatening. They were Kari Christensen, 48, of Ramsey, the driver of the Toyota; Lawrence Akers, 58, of Hardwood, North Dakota, the driver of the Expedition; and Joann Bieker, 71, of Hopkins, a passenger in the Toyota.

As many as six vehicles were initially reported to be involved in the pileup on the eastbound lanes near mile marker 96.

The eastbound lanes were closed to traffic and a detour was set up at the Brandon exit. The lanes re-opened at 5:35 p.m.

The crash was one of the worst local law enforcement authorities have seen in decades. Brad Lake, deputy sheriff with the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, said it brought back memories of a fatal crash that happened in February 1994 on Interstate 94 that killed seven cosmetology students who were riding in a van.

"It's just terrible," he said of Monday's crash.


Tragedy struck again at about 6:15 p.m. on County Road 82, west of Alexandria, about a quarter mile east of Townhall Road.

Kristy Carlson, 40, of Alexandria was driving east with her 13-year-old daughter, Megan Victoria Carlson in a 2002 Oldsmobile that collided with a westbound 2007 Chevrolet Trailblazer driven by Erin McCoy, 38, also of Alexandria, according to the Douglas County Sheriff's Office.

Megan Carlson was pronounced dead at the Douglas County Hospital.

Kristy Carlson was transferred to Hennepin County Medical Center where she was listed in satisfactory condition Tuesday morning.

McCoy was admitted to the hospital and was listed in good condition. She was traveling with her two boys, who were not injured in the crash.

Other departments responding to the scene included the State Patrol, Alexandria Fire and Rescue, Garfield Fire Department and North Ambulance.


A three-vehicle crash on State Highway 28 in Pope County in Glenwood at about 3:30 p.m. Monday also claimed a life.

Steffanie Dahlseng, 26, of Starbuck was killed in the crash.

She was driving a Buick LeSabre heading west on Highway 28 and spun out on the ice, causing the vehicle to careen into the oncoming path of a Mack truck, which struck the Buick in the rear, according to the State Patrol.

The Buick ended up in the south ditch and Dahlseng was killed.

The truck, driven by Phillip Peterson, 53, of Glenwood, also went into the ditch where it struck an unoccupied Chevrolet Blazer.

No other injuries were reported.


The Minnesota State Patrol was kept very busy throughout much of the state on Monday as snow and slush accumulated on the highways.

Troopers responded to about 191 crashes on state highways. Of those accidents, 44 resulted in injuries and two - the ones in Alexandria and Glenwood - were fatal crashes.

"It's very tragic," said Sergeant Jesse Grabow with the State Patrol. "Winter is still around and people need to slow down. Road conditions can change fast and drivers need to remember their winter driving skills."

In addition to the accidents, troopers were also called to assist drivers of 224 vehicles that had slid off the highways.

The hazardous driving conditions didn't end when the snow stopped.

"Vehicles were still going in [ditches] last night and slipping and sliding across the state," Grabow noted. "Troopers were busy through the night."

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Echo Press Reporter Amy Chaffins contributed to this story.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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