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Deadly accident near Alexandria leaves four dead

Four young women are dead after a three-vehicle accident on an icy stretch of Interstate 94 near here Monday afternoon.

The four are believed to be North Dakota State University freshmen, said Cam Knutson, student body president.

The Minnesota State Patrol is expected to officially release the victims' names sometime today. In the meantime, many NDSU students began to circulate social media tributes to four students Monday night: Lauren Peterson, Jordan Playle, Danielle Renninger and Megan Sample.

All four women are originally from the Twin Cities area and three were believed to have been suite mates at NDSU.

"It's horrible," Knutson said. "I hope the campus can come together on this and try to reach out to the families."

The cause of the crash is still unknown, but roads were slick and accidents abundant across the region Monday afternoon as snow fell and temperatures hovered near freezing.

In North Dakota, a 16-year-old Oakes girl was killed and five others injured when the girl lost control of her car and spun into the lane of an on-coming minivan near Valley City.

Minnesota State Patrol Sgt. Jesse Grabow said officers were still investigating the Alexandria-area crash, which occurred at 3 p.m. near mile marker 95 west of the city.

State Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske said the crash happened when the women's westbound car went through the median and crashed head-on into an eastbound sport utility vehicle. A third, eastbound vehicle then crashed into the back of the SUV.

Grabow said others were injured but how many and to what extent was not known as of press time.

Highways across Minnesota and North Dakota were becoming hazardous Monday as bands of snow and sleet moved through the region.

The teenager killed near Valley City was heading to Jamestown from Oakes on state Highway 1 around 12:30 p.m., five miles south of Interstate 94 when she lost control of her car.

Her Pontiac Grand Am spun into the southbound lane where a van driven by a 79-year-old LaMoure man struck the car on the driver's side.

The van's driver and passengers, a 79-year-old Lamoure woman as well as a 55-year-old woman and a 59-year-old man from Jamestown, were taken to Mercy Hospital in Valley City to be treated for injuries.

The teenage girl was pronounced dead at the scene. Her passenger, a 17-year-old girl also from Oakes, was taken to Mercy Hospital, then to Sanford in Fargo. Her condition is unknown.

All drivers and passengers were wearing their seatbelts at the time of the accident. Roads were wet with slush and snow cover.

That crash remains under investigation.

In the Minnesota Patrol district that includes Moorhead, Breckenridge and Alexandria, there were 25 accidents Monday.

Around 6:15 p.m., a second fatal accident near Alexandria occurred when two vehicles collided on Douglas County Road 82, sending three people to the hospital, the Alexandria Echo Press reported.

Earlier in the day also near Alexandria, three people were injured when a semi-trailer rolled over and two vehicles ran into debris that spilled onto the road from the overturned semi. The accident occurred around 6 a.m. near I-94 mile marker 96, one mile from where the four women died later in the day.

Icy roads were blamed for a 2008 crash in that area that killed a West Fargo man and his two children on Christmas Eve.

Thomas Dunnuck, 48, his sons, Samuel, 15, Gabriel, 12, and daughter Anna Dunnuck, 8, were traveling to a family gathering in Indiana when their SUV began to slide on the icy road and collided with two other vehicles. Anna Dunnuck was injured but survived the crash.

In North Dakota, Highway Patrol Sgt. Josh Rude said that although visibility was good, slush built up on the roadways, making them slick.

He said officers responded to numerous calls of vehicles in the ditch and about 12 accidents. Most accidents were property damage only, he said.

"This is the typical stuff we deal with in November when people are just getting reacquainted with winter driving," Rude said.