Wrong-way crash on Northbound I-694 in Oakdale leaves 2 dead, 1 seriously injured; stretch of roadway reopens
Authorities have reopened a section of northbound I-694 in Oakdale after a fatal crash caused it to close for multiple hours Thursday morning.
According to the Minnesota State Patrol, the driver of a Toyota Corolla was traveling the wrong way in the northbound left lane of the roadway at Stillwater Boulevard when it crashed head-on with a Pontiac Vibe shortly before 2:30 a.m. Thursday.
The incident report says that the collision caused the Vibe to spin out and then hit a Mercedes Benz Sprinter van in the right lane of northbound traffic.
The report goes on to say that the driver of the Vibe – identified as 32-year-old Alexander Ripka from Rice, Minnesota – was ejected and died from his injuries. He was listed as not wearing a seat belt. Meanwhile, 3-year-old Nevaeh Ripka riding in the vehicle was taken to Gillette Children’s Hospital with life-threatening injuries.
5 EYEWITNESS NEWS spoke with Darlene Ripka, Alex’s mother and Neveah’s grandmother.
“Neveah was his whole life. He loved her so much,” she said.
She said Alex and Neveah had been visiting a friend and were driving home to Rice, which is near St. Cloud, when the crash happened.
She said many family members are surrounding Neveah in the hospital Thursday.
“We are just focusing on her making it through. We need prayers,” Ripka said.
The report says the driver of the Corolla, 28-year-old William Alexander Flores-Zamora of St. Paul, also died after being extricated. It is unknown at this time if he was under the influence of alcohol.
Authorities add the driver of the van — identified as a 35-year-old man from Buffalo, New York — was taken to Regions Hospital for minor injuries.