Dancer dies after St. Paul light rail crash

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Nicholas Westlake. Photo credit: Dancers Studio

The St. Paul dance community is mourning the loss of a 29-year-old competitive ballroom dancer after he passed away from a car crash with a light rain train in St. Paul.

According to Metro Transit, around 9 p.m. Saturday, 29-year-old Nicholas Redlin Westlake of St. Paul was driving his car southbound on Eustis when a Green Line light rail hit the car.

Emergency crews took Westlake to Regions Hospital. He died from his injuries on Monday.

The passenger in the car, Neli Petkova, survived the crash. Westlake and Petkova were competitive ballroom dance partners. They consistently earned high rankings in the National Championships, according to Dancers Studio.

According to reports, witnesses said Westlake had the right of way with a green light when the crash happened.

The case is under investigation by the Metro Transit Police Department crash reconstruction team. Investigators are looking into whether the lights at the intersection were working properly and if the train operator was following procedure and traffic laws.

The train operator, Abdellatif El Maarouf, is on standard administrative leave. Maarouf has been a Metro Transit employee for 12 years.

The Dancers Studio will hold a memorial for Westlake on Friday at Dancers Studio/Midpointe Event Center from 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.