Speed appears to have been a contributing factor in the death of three St. Paul area men during a crash west of Rush City on Feb. 12.

The Chisago County Sheriff’s Office responded to a vehicle crash at approximately 7:50 a.m. about 5 miles southwest of Rush City, in the area of Rush Point Drive and Clover Trail in Nessel Township. The vehicles involved were a passenger car and a transport bus, according to a Feb. 12 press release by the Chisago County Sheriff’s Office.

“It’s hard for me to even say that without talking with someone that was kind of there,” Chisago County Sheriff Brandon Thyen said. “But it does appear that the bus was heading westbound on County Road 7, and the (passenger) car was heading eastbound, and there was a collision. I can’t tell you if it was head-on, or where those vehicles were in relationship to each other.”

Both vehicles were engulfed in flames when deputies and first responders arrived at the scene. The Rush City Fire Department assisted in extinguishing the flames, the press release explained.

Three occupants in the passenger car died as a result of the crash. The victims’ names have not been released until further investigation can confirm their identities through medical records, according to the press release. In addition, the Sheriff’s Office has been in contact with the victims’ families.

Deputies, the Rush City and Braham fire departments and the Chisago County Highway Public Works Department barricaded County Road 7 for several hours to extinguish the fires and carry out the investigation, Thyen said.

The Minnesota State Patrol Crash Reconstruction team processed the scene and will be analyzing the data to provide a more thorough analysis of the incident, according to the press release.

The Minnesota State Patrol and Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office also continued to process the scene. Additional agencies that assisted include Lakes Regions Emergency Medical Services and Chisago County Highway Department.

“They also have to deal with those cold conditions of, you know, water lines and truck issues with extreme temperatures,” Thyen said. “We wouldn’t be able to effectively handle any single one incident without those partnerships.”

Thyen said that deputies and first responders who respond to events involving fatalities can be trying on their mental health, which is why his department is taking action to care for their well-being.

“We try to help them, you know, process and deal with these types of incidents the best that we can,” Thyen said.

The Metro Region Critical Incident Stress Management Team, which provides free trained peer support to emergency responders for healthier lives, families and communities, has been scheduled to meet with those involved in the processing of the fatal crash, Thyen said.

“It’s voluntary if they want to attend,” he said adding that the program helps the officers and other responders talk through the frightful incidents and improve recovery and build stress resistance and resilience. “We are concerned about the welfare of our mental health of all of our public safety.”

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