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Crash closes westbound I-94 for six hours

Eight wreckers were engaged or poised to assist in untangling a snarl involving two semi units -- one which overturned, spilling its load of lumber -- and three cars near MM 9, west of Roberts. Steve Dzubay photos.

Westbound I-94 east of Hudson was closed for six hours on Thursday, June 7, in the wake of a five-vehicle crash involving two semi tractor-trailers.

Just one person, Mary A. Kielpinski, 63, of Eau Claire was seriously injured in the accident that happened at 11:45 a.m.

Kielpinski, driving a 2007 Hyundai Sonata, had slowed along with other vehicles as she entered a construction zone about a mile west of the Roberts exit when she was struck from behind by a semi tractor-trailer hauling a load of lumber.

Kielpinski was apparently the patient transferred from the scene to Regions Hospital in St. Paul by helicopter.

According to the Wisconsin State Patrol, the flatbed semi, driven by Rickie R. Bolen, 55, of Kenton, Ohio, also plowed into a 2002 Jeep Liberty driven by Sharelle M. Bowser, 24, of Hastings, Minn., and a 2007 Chevrolet Impala driven by Karen P. Borgeson, 55, of Detroit Lakes, Minn.

The semi overturned in the crash and came to rest with the upside-down tractor partially on the freeway shoulder and the trailer in the median.

A second semi drove into the median to avoid the scene and did so without striking any of the vehicles involved, the State Patrol said. That driver was identified as Christopher N. Briggs, 45, of Madison Heights, Mich.

The State Patrol said westbound traffic had slowed or stopped in the construction zone where the right lane was closed. The Wisconsin Department of Transportation is rebuilding the I-94/Hwy. 65 interchange in the area.

The Thursday morning crash disrupted traffic throughout the area for much of the day.

Westbound interstate traffic was stopped at Baldwin and turned south on Hwy. 63 to Hwy. 29, west to Hwy. 65/35 at River Falls, then 10 miles back north to the interstate.

As many as eight wreckers were dispatched to the scene to untangle the snarl of the overturned semi, spilled lumber and damaged cars.

Jerry's Towing of Roberts took the lead in removing the semis, using multiple wreckers, including a heavy wrecker with an extended boom.

First-responders and firefighters from Roberts-Warren were assisted by EMS and fire crews from Hudson and River Falls Area Ambulance.

St. Croix County Highway Department personnel helped with signage and traffic direction.

At least seven units from the Wisconsin State Patrol were at the scene.

Heavy traffic on Hwy. 12 in the Hammond-Roberts area throughout Thursday afternoon indicated not everyone followed the State Patrol's detour route. Numerous semi rigs were seen westbound on Hwy. 12 through two construction areas at Roberts, then continuing west to re-enter I-94 at Exit 4.

Westbound I-94 was reopened to traffic late in the afternoon.

At about 8 p.m. Thursday, Roberts-Warren Fire & Rescue volunteers were called back to the I-94 construction zone near Roberts to free the driver of a car that had rolled and come to rest on its roof. The driver was trapped in the vehicle.

The motorist was freed within 11 minutes of the call and transported to Regions Hospital by a St. Croix EMS ambulance from Hudson.