Paramedic dies in ambulance crash on I-94 in Brooklyn Center

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A paramedic has died in a crash involving an ambulance and a semi on westbound Interstate 694 near Shingle Creek Parkway in Brooklyn Center, according to a Minnesota State Patrol spokeswoman. The State Patrol identified the paramedic as 24-year-old Marina Gayle DeSteno-Challeen.

Sara DuPaul with State Patrol says around 7 p.m. Monday, a HealthEast ambulance crashed into a semi stalled near the split for I-694 and I-94. The semi had stalled due to mechanical issues about 15 minutes before the crash and was the in the process of getting towed when the crash happened.

The ambulance was coming from Monticello and heading to the Riverside neighborhood in Minneapolis. The ambulance did not have its lights or sirens on and was not carrying any patients. It came from the I-694 side of the split and attempted to merge across the apex, hitting the back of the semi in the process. The ambulance struck the semi on its front passenger side.

Challeen was riding in the passenger seat and was pronounced dead at the scene. Emergency crews took the ambulance driver, identified as 27-year-old Susanna Grace Kelly, to North Memorial Medical Center for treatment of non-life threatening injuries.

"Last evening, there was a tragic motor vehicle collision that involved one of our HealthEast ambulances," a HealthEast spokesperson said in a statement. "We lost a valued member of our HealthEast Medical Transportation Team. As we work with law enforcement to understand what happened, we ask for thoughts and prayers for our colleague, grieving family and friends and our team. The families involved are asking for privacy during this time."

The driver of the semi truck has been identified as Paulette Alicia Mejia, 44, of Temple, Georgia. She was not injured in the crash. 

The crash is still under investigation. MnDOT closed I-694 at the I-94/I-694 split in Brooklyn Center soon after the crash and planned to close the route for about four hours. Traffic was diverted to the I-94 lanes.