A 62-year-old pedestrian was killed when she was struck by an SUV and thrown against an electrical box along London Road in Duluth on Tuesday, according to police and a witness at the scene.
The Duluth Police Department confirmed that the woman died when she was struck near the intersection of London Road and 40th Avenue East, in front of Ecumen Lakeshore, around 12:40 p.m. Authorities said the driver, a 49-year-old woman, was taken into custody after the incident.
Police did not immediately release the names of the driver or victim, saying an investigation was ongoing.
For several hours after the crash, a red Mercury Mountaineer with front bumper damage was parked near a sign for the senior living facility. The vehicle was cordoned off by crime scene tape, and investigators had erected a tent alongside it.
Skid marks could be seen across the northbound lanes of London Road, and through the grass up to where the vehicle was parked.
Colleen Murray told the News Tribune that she was driving a bus down 40th Avenue East when she witnessed the crash.
She said the SUV was already parked on the grass next to the sign when she came upon the scene, and that the driver was talking with an older woman, who was outside the vehicle.
The conversation ended and the pedestrian started to walk away, Murray said. It appeared that the driver was preparing to back up when the SUV suddenly lurched forward and rammed the pedestrian into the electrical box, she said.
“The lady in the red vehicle started looking backwards to back out,” Murray said. “All of a sudden, she just ran the lady down. She hit her and plowed her right into that thing.”
Murray said she was unsure how the car got onto the grass in the first place, and that the conversation between the two women seemed calm before the collision.
Murray said that she immediately alerted her dispatch center to call 911, and that there likely were other witnesses in the busy area. She said she was shaken up after witnessing the crash, and left with many questions about how it occurred.
“It was bad,” she said. “I know why it happened. I just seen her run her into that thing. It was awful.”
Duluth police spokesman Ron Tinsley said the driver, who was not injured, was in the St. Louis County Jail Tuesday night on a preliminary charge of criminal vehicular homicide. Officers at the scene suspected the driver was impaired and a blood test was conducted at a local hospital, Tinsley said.
Investigators were on scene for most of the afternoon, and London Road was closed between 40th and 26th avenues east, with snarled traffic being rerouted to Superior Street.
Investigators from the traffic and crime scene units could be seen measuring and marking skid marks and taking photographs of the crash site and the roadway.
The Duluth Fire Department, Minnesota State Patrol and University of Minnesota Duluth Police Department also assisted at the scene.