2 dead in Andover head-on crash

Updated: September 14, 2019 10:38 AM

UPDATE: The victims in the fatal Anoka crash have been identified as Elanor Lee Frey, age 44 of Ogilvie and Dawn Marie Benkler, age 57 of St. Francis.  

Authorities were at the scene of a fatal crash in Andover Friday morning.

According to the Anoka County Sheriff's Office, the two-vehicle crash happened at about 7:41 a.m. in the area of 165th Avenue Northwest and Northwest Makah Street.

Upon arrival, authorities noted one of the vehicles was on fire. People who had stopped to help were able to remove the driver from that vehicle, according to the sheriff's office.

Although life-saving efforts were attempted, both drivers were pronounced dead at the scene. There were no passengers in either vehicle.

Authorities said a preliminary investigation revealed one vehicle had been traveling eastbound on 165th Avenue and the other had been traveling westbound when the two vehicles collided head on.

The Sheriff's Office is still investigating what caused the crash, including factors like distracted driving, impairment, and mechanical failure.

The road was closed to traffic for about six hours Friday morning into afternoon.

State Patrol was on scene helping with the crash reconstruction.

“When is it going to be enough for them to change this intersection,” said Kathy Reitan, who lives on Makah Street Northwest.

She's been living there for more than two decades and said the sound she heard Friday morning was all too familiar.

“It’s very common to have an accident there,” she said. “It's almost a continual thing. We hear the screeching and wait for the impact, we hear it so often.”

She walked up to the scene, her paramedic instincts kicking in. Reitan spent 38 years in the profession.

“We went out there, they called it in as fully involved,” she said, describing the black smoke she saw. “Exactly the same as another one that was there.”

According to Reitan, there have been half a dozen fatal crashes along about a two-mile stretch of road in the past 25 years.

She said something needs to be done to make the road safer, including a traffic light.

“A light's a pain but it can help save the lives of people that are dying all the time,” said Reitan.

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Rebecca Omastiak & Callan Gray

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