July 19, 2017 10:19 PM
A 29-year-old St. Paul man has died after the vehicle he was driving was struck by a METRO Green Lane train at Eustis Street and University Avenue Saturday night.
A release from Metro Transit reported Nicholas Redlin Westlake died as a result of his injuries.
His car was struck by the train just after 9 p.m. Saturday. A passenger in the car, Neli Petkova, was able to get out of the vehicle on her own and was transported to Regions Hospital in St. Paul where the release said she was treated and released.
She and Westlake were dating, as well as being partners on the dance floor.
Westlake had to be extricated from the vehicle by St. Paul firefighters.
The release said the train operator, Abdellatif El Maarouf, remains on standard administrative leave as the investigation into the crash continues.
He is a 12-year Metro Transit employee.
The release said Westlake's car was traveling south on Eustis when the westbound train collided with the vehicle. Josh Withers was on University Avenue at the same time and witnessed the crash.
"The train made a direct hit to the driver's door," Withers said. "I thought nobody could survive that."
Westlake and Petkova shared their love of ballroom dancing by teaching others at the Dancer's Studio on Pascal Street North in St. Paul.
They also competed and ranked nationwide.
Wednesday, fellow performers posted a message:
"Death leaves a heartache no one can heal and love leaves a memory no one can steal."
Metro Transit said in a statement:
"A reconstruction team is leading the investigation and reviewing video from the light rail train."
The results of the probe will be turned over to the Ramsey County Attorney's office for review.
A celebration of life will be held for Nicholas Westlake from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Friday at the dance studio in St. Paul.
Petkova remains at home recovering.
Beth McDonough and Frank Rajkowski
Updated: July 19, 2017 10:19 PM
Created: July 19, 2017 05:53 PM
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