Photo courtesy of KARE-TV 11
By Mallory Anderson
Posted: Sat 8:43 PM, Aug 27, 2016 |
Updated: Sun 1:32 PM, Aug 28, 2016
BLAINE, Minn. (WLUC) - UPDATE: 11:43 p.m. 8/27/2016
TV6 has confirmed Beartown Firefighters of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community were involved a fatal crash in Blaine, Minnesota on Saturday.
Police say two people were killed and several others were seriously injured in the crash. The accident involved a vehicle with nine occupants, and happened on Interstate 35W at 95th Avenue around 3 p.m. CST.
MnDOT reports the truck was Southbound on 35W near 95th Ave, and left the roadway for an unknown reason. The truck then struck the median cable barriers, and rolled over. According to MnDOT, that section of the freeway was closed in both directions until 7:30 p.m. CST. Based on the evidence collected thus far, the driver was either drunk and/or speeding. No other vehicle was involved.
According to MnDOT, Michael A. Johnson (29) of Baraga was the driver, and Dave R. Varline (26) of Baraga, Robert A. Shawa of L'Anse, Ross J. Jaukkuri (33) of Baraga, Gavin C. Loonsfoot (34) of Baraga, Tyler J. Tolonen (26) of Menomonee Falls, Wisconsin, Joseph Jossens of Michigan, and Shashaywin D. Sandman Shelifoe (29), of Minnesota, were all passengers in the vehicle. Physical conditions of each person involved is unknown at this time.
According to Minnesota State Police, all injured firefighters are expected to recover.
The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community has release a statement Saturday night regarding the fatal accident of Beartown Firefighters in Blaine, Minnesota.
"The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community learned this evening that our Beartown Firefighting crew was involved in a tragic traffic accident. Two of our fire fighters were killed and several others were severely injured. Our hearts are broken and our prayers are with the family members and those injured.
We are continuing to gather information on the condition of each and every fire fighter who was sent to the Box Canyon fire. It has been difficult due to privacy laws. If any family members have questions, please contact the Tribal Police Department 353-6626.
There will also be staff at the Tribal Center to process Emergency Medical Travel beginning tonight. Family needing assistance should contact Larry Denomie at 201-0631.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the families."
An official from the KBIC has told TV6 many of the victims involved in the accident come from low income families. The KBIC has already begun planning a fundraiser to benefit the families affected by this accident. A spaghetti dinner and 50/50 raffle fundraiser will be held at the L’Anse VFW, Monday August 29th at 5:30 p.m.
The Star Tribune, a newspaper out of Minneapolis, reports Warren “Chris” Swartz, president of the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, confirmed there has been a fatal crash involving one of their vehicles in Blaine, Minnesota.
Police say two people were killed and several others were seriously injured in a crash in Blaine Saturday afternoon. The crash involved a vehicle with nine occupants, and happened on Interstate 35W at 95th Avenue around 3 p.m. CST.
According to the Star Tribune, photos on social media show a vehicle with logos similar to those of the Beartown Firefighters. Beartown Firefighters is a firefighting crew based out of Baraga and is managed by the KBIC and the Bureau of Indian Affairs. Officials from the KBIC have confirmed to TV6 that the crew was on their way to a wildfire in Utah.
An official from the KBIC has told TV6 many of the victims involved in the accident come from low income families. The KBIC has already begun planning a fundraiser to benefit the families affected by this accident. A spaghetti dinner and 5/50 raffle fundraiser will be held at the L’Anse VFW, Monday August 29th at 5:30 p.m.
This is a developing story, and TV6 will have more information as it becomes available.
2 WILDLAND FIREFIGHTERS KILLED, 6 INJURED IN FIRE APPARATUS CRASH-MINNESOTA LODD
Billy August 27, 2016
We regret to pass on to you that two Firefighters traveling in a Michigan-based fire vehicle were killed in the Line of Duty, and others were injured, following a crash this evening on Interstate 35W in Blaine, MN-while enroute to a fire in Utah. The fire transport vehicle contained 8 Firefighters.
Initial reports are that the truck belonged to the Beartown Firefighters, a crew located on the south shores of Lake Superior in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula that specializes in fighting wildfires.
The Keweenaw Bay Indian Community in cooperation with the Bureau of Indian Affairs manages this Type 2 Wildland Firefighting handcrew. The Firefighters are based out of Baraga, MI. and are available for dispatch locally as well as nation-wide.
It is jointly managed by the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community and the Bureau of Indian Affairs (BIA).
The Firefighters were on their way to the Box Canyon wildfire in Utah. Our condolences to all those affected. More to follow. RIP.
Fatal Crash Closes I-35W Southbound in Blaine
August 27, 2016 05:23 PM
A vehicle crash on Interstate 35W near 95th Avenue in Blaine is causing traffic to be diverted both northbound and southbound.
Officials have confirmed that at least one person is dead. Several others were injured in the crash, according to investigators.
Lettering on a truck involved in the crash says Beartown Fire Department. There is a Beartown Fire Department located in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.
Interstate 35W crash near 95th Avenue in Blaine Aug. 27, 2016.