Authorities Say 2 Men Stole Lyft Vehicle Before Dying in Crash

Authorities Say 2 Men Stole Lyft Vehicle Before Dying in Crash Photo: KSTP

November 13, 2018 05:01 PM

Authorities in Central Minnesota say two men stole a vehicle from a Lyft driver in St. Cloud early Tuesday morning, then took off at a high rate of speed before both were killed after crashing into trees in Sherburne County.

A joint release from the St. Cloud Police Department and the Sherburne County Sheriff's Office said St. Cloud police responded to a report of a stolen vehicle on the 2300 block of Minnesota Boulevard SE at around 1:12 a.m. There, they met a 46-year-old male walking near Minnesota Boulevard and 20th Avenue SE.

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The man said he was a Lyft driver and had responded to a ride request on the 600 block of Lincoln Avenue SE. After picking up the two males, he said he drove them around for a short time as they did not appear to know where they were going. They ended up on the 2300 block of Minnesota Boulevard where the man said one of the males in the back seat reached up and grabbed the steering wheel - nearly causing the vehicle to leave the road.

The man said he pulled over and stopped the car. He said the man again reached over the seat, this time grabbing him by the shirt and seatbelt, pulling him backward and allegedly threatening to kill him. The man said he got out of the car and called police. One of the males also reportedly got out and briefly pursued him before getting back into the driver's seat of the vehicle with the other man still inside.

The pair reportedly drove off at a high rate of speed.

Minutes later, a Sherburne County deputy parked on the side of County Road 8 observed a vehicle traveling southeast at a high rate of speed south of 57th Street SE. The deputy said he clocked the vehicle at 112 miles per hour as it drove past. As he tried to catch up, he approached a curve in the road near the intersection of 77th Street.

There, the deputy reported seeing and smelling smoke. He also saw vehicle wreckage near the intersection of County Road 8 and 38th Avenue. The vehicle had crashed into trees on the south side of County Road 8. Investigation showed the vehicle that crashed was the one the Lyft driver had reported being stolen.

One man had been ejected from the vehicle and was pronounced dead at the scene. The other was taken to St. Cloud Hospital where he was later pronounced dead.

The release said it appears the two men were the same ones who had the altercation with the Lyft driver, who did not require any medical attention.

The matter remains under investigation. The identities of the two men killed are being withheld pending notification of family.

A Lyft spokesperson issued a statement on the matter Tuesday afternoon:

"Safety is Lyft's top priority," it read. "The incident described is incredibly frightening and we recognize how terrifying this was for the driver involved. We have reached out to the driver to extend our support and stand ready to assist law enforcement."

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Frank Rajkowski

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