Emergency personnel respond to a double fatality on Interstate 35 one mile north of the Iowa border Wednesday evening. — Sarah Stultz/Albert Lea Tribune
Emergency personnel respond to a double fatality on Interstate 35 one mile north of the Iowa border Wednesday evening. — Sarah Stultz/Albert Lea Tribune

2 men die in wrong-way I-35 crash near Iowa border

Published 6:31am Thursday, May 29, 2014

FREEMAN TOWNSHIP — Two men died Wednesday in a head-on collision on northbound Interstate 35 one mile north of the Iowa border.

Authorities have identified the men as James D. Winnes, 28, of Albert Lea, and Kirt H. Schmidt, 46, of Owatonna.

The Minnesota State Patrol report states Schmidt was driving the wrong way in a 1995 Mercury Sable, southbound in the northbound lanes, when his car collided with a 1998 Buick LeSabre driven in the left, northbound lane by Winnes.

As a result of the crash, the Buick was pushed into the trailer of a 2013 Volvo tractor, driven by Edward D. Renchin, 52, of Fairmont. The trucker was not injured.

Winnes and Schmidt died at the scene from injuries sustained in the crash and had to be extricated from their vehicles. There were no passengers.

The initial call came to dispatchers at 6:50 p.m., stating the collision happened near mile marker 1 on I-35. The crash was beside the Minnesota Welcome Center rest area.

Why Schmidt was traveling the wrong way on the interstate remains unclear. The State Patrol indicated alcohol was not detected, and all drivers were wearing their seat belts.

Traffic on I-35 was rerouted through the rest area while northbound lanes were blocked.

The Freeborn County and Worth County sheriff’s offices, Glenville Fire Department and Gold Cross Ambulance assisted.

 


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