The Free Press, Mankato, MN

March 8, 2014

4 die in Brown County crash

Four others hurt in Hwy. 14 collision

By Mark Fischenich mfischenich@mankatofreepress.com
The Mankato Free Press

---- — SLEEPY EYE — Four men, ranging in age from 17 to 20, died in a two-vehicle crash Friday night on an icy curve on Highway 14 near Sleepy Eye, and four others were injured.

The two vehicles were headed in opposite directions when they collided at 8:18 p.m., according to Lt. Eric Roeske of the Minnesota State Patrol.

All four of the men killed were in a 2003 Grand Prix driven by Kansas T. Adams, 19, of Sleepy Eye, who lost control of the vehicle while westbound on Highway 14, entered the eastbound lane of traffic and was struck broadside by a 1999 Dodge Ram pickup. Dead at the scene were passengers Caleb B. Quesenberry, 17, of St. Peter; Payton R. Adams, 17, of Sleepy Eye; Tyler S. Hadley, 20, of Sleepy Eye; and John D. Mangen, 18, of Fairfax. Kansas Adams suffered serious injuries and was taken to the Sleepy Eye Medical Center, according to the Minnesota State Patrol.

Kansas Adams, who is the brother of Payton Adams, was driving the Grand Prix when the crash occurred just west of Sleepy Eye on the curve where Highway 14, an undivided two-lane highway at that point, turns to the south.

“All we can tell you is it was icy at the time, and it appears the Grand Prix driver lost control and went into the path of the pickup,” Roeske said when asked if speed was a factor in the crash.

The driver of the Dodge Ram — Douglas P. Wiborg, 43, of New Ulm — was taken to the Sleepy Eye hospital. Wiborg’s two passengers — daughter Syndey Wiborg, 7, and son Jakob Wiborg, 9, — were taken to Children’s Hospital in Minneapolis. The injuries to the all three members of the New Ulm family, who were all wearing seatbelts, were listed as non-life-threatening.

In the Grand Prix, none of the five men — with the possible exception of Mangen — had been wearing a seatbelt, Roeske said. Alcohol was not detected on Wiborg, and its currently unknown if alcohol was in the bloodstream of any of the men in the Grand Prix.

“There was a substance believed to be marijuana located in the Pontiac Grand Prix,” said Roeske at a St. Paul news conference at noon Saturday. “However, what — if any — role that may have played in the crash is yet to be determined.”

Along with the Patrol and the Brown County Sheriff’s Department, the crash prompted a response from the Sleepy Eye Police Department, the Sleepy Eye Fire and Rescue Department and the Sleepy Eye Ambulance service. Both vehicles were totaled.

The crash came seven days after a very similar fatal collision near Northfield. In that case, five people between the ages of 19 and 21 were in a vehicle that slid across the center line of an icy two-lane state highway and was struck broadside by an on-coming truck. Three Carleton College students were killed and two others were seriously injured in that crash.

Roeske noted that thousands of Minnesota drivers have lost control of vehicles during recent winter storms and suffered little more than the inconvenience of getting towed out of a ditch.

“Depending on what’s coming in the other direction, it can be a horrific tragedy, as well,” he said of a vehicle sliding out of its lane. “... At the wrong time and the wrong place, it costs lives.”