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Two die in Highway 8 crash

Photo by Polk County Sheriff's Dept. The accident scene Saturday night near St. Croix Falls.

The front seat passenger and driver of a Crown Victoria died due to injuries from a one-vehicle accident at about 11:48 p.m. Saturday, May 21, near St. Croix Falls.

The driver, Jesse L. Smith, 32, Amery, was westbound on Highway 8 near Sunset View Drive when drove off the paved portion of the road on the north shoulder. The driver attempted to take corrective action but lost control of the vehicle. He entered the north ditch and struck several trees.

The driver was wearing a seat belt, but due to the violence of the crash, he was ejected, according to the Polk County Sheriff's Department report.

The front seat passenger, Brian C. Redmon, 44, St. Croix Falls, was not wearing a seat belt and was also ejected from the vehicle. Both were pronounced dead at the scene.

The rear seat passenger, Amanda E. Winkelman, 24, Osceola, was reported to be wearing her seat belt and received multiple injuries. Winkelman was transported to St. Croix Regional Medical Center and then transferred to Regions Hospital in St. Paul.

Witnesses indicate the vehicle was traveling at an extremely high rate of speed prior to the crash. Speed and alcohol are believed to be contributing factors in the crash, sheriff's deputies report.

Highway 8 was closed for three and a half hours due to the crash. The Sheriff's Department is continuing the investigation.

The deaths are the seventh and eighth traffic fatalities in Polk County in 2011. In 2010, Polk County had seven traffic fatalities for the entire year.