A five-vehicle accident on Interstate 94 closed the freeway for several hours near Clearwater last night and left two people dead and seven injured.
The Minnesota State Patrol said two of the injured were in critical condition.
The incident happened at about 7:30 p.m. after a car fire on the freeway near Clearwater, which is located about 13 miles southeast of St. Cloud. The fire was out, but westbound traffic on I-94 was still delayed. A tractor trailer coming up on the slowed traffic slammed into the line of cars at the rear of the backup.
Authorites said the truck hit a 1995 Volvo, critically injuring Korene Schmitz, 22, of St. Cloud. Her car and the truck hit a nearby Chrysler carryall and killed 78-year-old Thomas Williams of Sandwich, Ill., and his 61-year-old passenger, Sophie Mitzel, also from Illinois. A second passenger in that car, Patricia Wanner, was in critical condition.
The State Patrol said both westbound lanes of the interstate were clear six hours after the crash.