November 21, 2018 10:18 PM
The Anoka County Sheriff's Department has identified the two 14-year-old girls injured when they were struck by a vehicle in St. Francis Tuesday night, as well as identifying the driver involved.
A release Wednesday afternoon said Kaia Jean Bollmann of Oak Grove remains listed in critical condition at Hennepin County Medical Center. Anneliese Louise Lamotte of Nowthen is also at Hennepin County Medical Center.
The release said her condition has been upgraded to stable serious.
"She is a tough young lady and we appreciate all the prayers and messages we have been getting," said Lisa LaMotte, Anneliese's mother.
Both girls are students at St. Francis Middle School and were using a crosswalk nearby. The middle school had a team of counselors on hand Wednesday to help students.
"I want to say it was count 37 when (Bollmann) finally took a breath," said Samantha Stewart, a children’s hospital medical assistant who stopped and performed CPR at the scene.
"It was probably one of the best feelings that I’ve ever felt. Relief. I was 'Oh thank god I kept praying.'"
According to an earlier release, the incident occurred at 5:53 p.m. at the intersection of Highway 47 and Pederson Drive Northwest. Emergency personnel responded to the scene and found two girls injured at the location.
Early investigation indicated the girls were crossing the highway in the crosswalk and were struck by a northbound vehicle driven by Daniel Lee Geiger of Isanti.
The release Wednesday said Geiger, who was driving a 2013 Chevrolet Sonic, was cooperating with the investigation. Drugs or alcohol are not believed to be a factor.
The matter remains under investigation.
The girls were in a crosswalk that requires a push button to activate lights to alert drivers on Highway 47 that someone is about to cross.
The school district said getting cars to slow down on the four-lane highway outside the school has been a concern for years.
Parents launched a petition last night demanding safety changes like a pedestrian bridge or stoplight. By mid-morning Wednesday, more than 5,000 people had signed it - in a town of just 8,000.
"When I heard two eighth graders got hit, my heart sunk," said Heather Buzzell, who is also the parent of an eighth-grader and signed the petition.
"We have a rule in our house. You don't cross 47."
A spokesperson for the Minnesota Department of Transportation says the agency has identified 16 crashes at Trunk Highway 47 and Pederson Drive Northwest over the past decade. That information is as of March of this year, so it does not include Tuesday's crash.
MNDOT says it is working with the City of St. Francis, Anoka County and the school district on possible solutions to reduce speeds in the area.
Buzell hopes years of talk in the community about the highway will now finally lead to change.
"For the sake of the girls and their families, I can't imagine what they are going through, all I can hope is something comes of this," she said.
The St. Francis city administrator told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS earlier this summer that the city applied for grant money with the state to put in a stoplight and improve lighting at the crosswalk.
The Minnesota Department of Transportation, meanwhile, said they are assembling data from incidents on the highway and plan to meet with the school district and city to figure out how to get cars to slow down on the highway approaching the school.
Eric Chaloux and Frank Rajkowski
Updated: November 21, 2018 10:18 PM
Created: November 21, 2018 03:47 PM
Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company