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Bemidji Pioneer 

Wrong-way driver near Bemidji causes numerous crashes


A driver going the wrong way on both state Highway 89 and U.S. Highway 2 caused several accidents Wednesday night, one of which critically injured an Ada, Minn., woman in a head-on collision.

According to Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office and Minnesota State Patrol reports, at 8:40 p.m. Wednesday, a motorist was driving a 1998 Chevrolet Tahoe south in the northbound lane of Highway 89.

The Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office received at least 15 911 calls reporting the wrong-way driver about four miles north of Bemidji and then progressing from Highway 89 to U.S. Highway 2, going east in the westbound lanes.

The driver ran numerous vehicles off the road before striking the side of a 1999 Subaru Legacy Outback driven by Jeremy Andrew Rauch, 40, of Guthrie. The first crash occurred about three miles east of Bemidji near the Eckles Road. Rauch was wearing a seat belt and had no apparent injuries.

The wrong-way vehicle then struck head-on a 2004 Oldsmobile Alero driven by Andrea Konoske Waagen, 27, of Ada, Minn. She was taken to Essentia Health in Fargo, N.D., and is listed in critical condition. Her passenger, Delsie E. Konoske, 63, of Ada, was taken to Sanford Bemidji Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries. The two women were wearing seat belts.

The Tahoe and the Subaru were totaled and blocking both lanes of Highway 2.

A 2009 Dodge Charger driven by a Beltrami County Sheriff’s deputy sideswiped the rear of the Oldsmobile and then went into the ditch and hit a sign. The deputy was taken to Sanford Bemidji Health Center, where he was treated and released. He was wearing a seat belt.

The suspect was arrested and is in custody in the Beltrami County Jail on pending charges of criminal vehicular operation. He is expected to make his first appearance in Beltrami County District Court today, Sept. 2.

The investigation is being conducted by the Minnesota State Patrol and Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office.


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