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2 kids badly injured as fleeing SUV plows into Minneapolis park

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Minnesota State Patrol investigates the scene.
The Minnesota State Patrol investigates the scene where a motorist being pursued by the State Patrol veered into a Minneapolis school playground Monday.
Elizabeth Flores | Star Tribune via AP

Updated 8:25 p.m. | Posted 12:38 p.m. 

A driver fleeing Minnesota State Patrol troopers injured three children Monday at a playground behind Jenny Lind Elementary School in Minneapolis.

The patrol said that Kayden Peltier, 2, and Lilliana Peltier, 4, suffered life-threatening injuries in the crash and were taken to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale. Their 3-year-old brother, Konnor Peltier, was also taken to North Memorial but was not hurt as badly as the other two. 

Devin Brinkley, the aunt of the three siblings, said that Kayden was in critical condition Monday afternoon, while Lilliana suffered bleeding on her brain but was in stable condition. 

Troopers investigate the scene of a crash at a north Mpls. playground.
Minnesota State Patrol troopers investigate the scene of a crash at a north Minneapolis playground on Monday.
Tim Nelson | MPR News

All three were in Bohanon Park on Monday morning, where a mangled tennis court fence and a wrecked swingset marked the path of the SUV speeding off-road through the park.

Authorities said the incident began with an attempted traffic stop of a Ford Expedition SUV on Interstate 94. The driver exited the freeway at 53rd Avenue North, and a second trooper joined the pursuit. The suspect fled into a residential neighborhood just west of the freeway, eventually turning into the park.

The driver fled from the park crash on foot and was caught by troopers near the park, State Patrol Capt. Jason Bartell told reporters. The incident started about 9:30 a.m. and lasted only minutes.

The driver was identified as a 27-year-old Richfield man. He is being held without bond on charges of criminal vehicular operation and fleeing police, but has not yet been formally charged.

Bartell said that a gun was recovered in the suspect's vehicle.

The suspect's criminal record in Minnesota includes convictions in 2015 for driving after his license was suspended and not having motor vehicle insurance. 

Bartell said it looked initially like troopers were following protocol by pursuing the driver and that there is no blanket policy about how such pursuits should be conducted off of state highways and onto city streets.

"Every situation is different. That's up to the state trooper, or supervisor that's listening on the radio at the time," he said.

Minneapolis public schools wrapped up for the year on Friday, so there were no classes in session at the school when the crash happened.