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Driver involved in chase, deadly 6-vehicle crash in Chaska identified

Updated: July 31, 2019 06:51 PM

The Minnesota State Patrol has identified the man who fled officers and collided with several other vehicles in Chaska Tuesday evening.

According to the state patrol, 40-year-old James Charles Erickson, of St. Paul, died as a result of injuries from the crash. Authorities said he was not wearing his seatbelt and that they believe alcohol was not a factor in the crash.

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The incident began at about 5:30 p.m., when Carver County Sheriff's Office deputies responded to a driving complaint reporting a driver in a BMW who was weaving, crossing the center and fog lines, and changing speeds in the area of Highway 212 and County Road 51.

RELATED: Man flees police, dies in 6-vehicle crash in Chaska

A deputy found the driver, later identified as Erickson, along Highway 212 and began following the BMW. The deputy attempted to stop Erickson but he accelerated and attempted to flee from the deputy.

"I don't have any information that would have led me to believe that we should have called [the chase] off. I am aware through conversation with my staff the on-duty sergeant was asking the appropriate questions, so we have a second party who was not involved in the pursuit also evaluating the circumstances," he said. 

Erickson reportedly continued driving along Highway 212 at a high rate of speed, according to the state patrol, before exiting the highway at Highway 41.

Carver County Sheriff Jason Kamerud says the chase lasted roughly 10 miles between Cologne and Chaska, with speeds that reached the triple digits.

"The deputy let us know the fleeing motorist was in excess of 100 miles-per-hour, and there were portions where they were traveling much slower than that," said Kamerud.

Erickson then reportedly crashed into several vehicles in the intersection. Kamerud said there were six vehicles involved in the crash, including Erickson's vehicle.

The state patrol said the other five drivers—a 52-year-old Chaska man, a 45-year-old Chaska woman, a 27-year-old Brooklyn Park woman, a 29-year-old Chaska woman, and a 58-year-old Mound woman—were wearing their seatbelts and suffered injuries that were not life-threatening. They were transported to nearby hospitals for treatment.

The state patrol is assisting the Carver County Sheriff's Office in the crash reconstruction and investigation.

A check of Erickson's criminal background reveals a history dating back more than a decade with charges ranging from criminal sexual conduct and domestic assault, to making terroristic threats and fleeing police.

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Rebecca Omastiak

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