Driver arrested in crash that killed 2 firefighters on I-35W

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A firefighter from Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is being held on possible criminal vehicular homicide charges for his role in a deadly crash that killed two of his fellow firefighters and injured several others on Interstate 35W in Blaine, Minn. The firefighters were on their way to the Box Canyon wildfire in Utah when they crashed.

The crash occurred at approximately 3 p.m. on Saturday at I-35W and 95th Avenue in Blaine. The truck carrying the firefighters left the road for an unknown reason, struck the median cable barriers and rolled.

The firefighters were part of the Beartown Firefighting Crew in Baraga, Mich., according to a statement from the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community. 23-year-old James Shelifoe, Jr. and 25-year-old Alan Swartz, both of Baraga, were killed in the crash. Seven others, including the driver of the truck, were injured, but all are expected to recover.

The driver of the truck, Michael Johnson, 28, of Baraga, was booked into the Anoka County Jail.

The cause of the crash remains unknown. 

Identities of passengers


Alan Swartz, 25, Baraga, Mich.
James Shelifoe, 23, Baraga, Mich.


Michael Johnson, 28 , Baraga, Mich. (driver)
Dave Varline, 26, Baraga, Mich.
Tyler Tolonen, 26, Menomonee Falls, Wis.
Shashaywin Sandman Shelifoe, 29
Ross Jaukkuri, Ross, 33  Baraga, Mich.
Gavin Loonsfoot, 34 , Baraga, Mich.
Joseph Jossens

Box Canyon Fire

The Box Canyon Fire in Utah has burned nearly 4,000 acres, fanned by heavy winds into the weekend. Ground crews have been working to protect the campground and a helicopter has been running bucket drops. Firefighters were adding sprinkler systems to the campground and adding protection to preserve a historic guard station. The Box Canyon fire was determined to be human caused. There are currently no leads on a person of interest in the cause of the fire.