Two men were severely injured and a dog appeared to be badly injured following a high-speed crash involving a stolen car on Grand Avenue on Thursday.
Police responded around 1:15 p.m. to a two-vehicle crash in the West Duluth neighborhood, after the driver of the stolen vehicle crossed into the oncoming lane where he struck a compact car. The 29-year-old man is expected to be charged with gross negligence, vehicle theft, driving after revocation and failure to maintain a lane, according to the Duluth Police Department.
The chaotic scene in broad daylight drew a heavy presence from the Duluth police and fire departments, closing Grand Avenue between Waseca Street and 70th Avenue West.
Witnesses said the driver of a stolen Dodge Charger had been weaving in and out of traffic, driving at times on the wrong side of the road, heading south in the northbound lanes. At some point, he blew a tire and later struck a compact car carrying a 58-year-old man and a dog.
The victim in the compact car had to be extricated from his vehicle by firefighters, and was transported to a local hospital with severe injuries. He is expected to survive, police said.
The driver of the stolen vehicle was also transported to the hospital with severe, but non-life threatening injuries.
"He had to be going 90 (mph)," said Todd Sletten, 72, who'd been in his backyard on Main Street and 65th Avenue West, where he heard screams and a car peeling out. The car was being followed by a black pickup driven by Mike McDonald, owner of the stolen Charger.
The dog was lying on its side at the scene and was carried to a van by Journey Redbrook, who was working at Perfect Timing Auto Repair at 6920 Grand Ave. The police department did not comment on the status of the dog.
Redbrook said he did not see the crash, but it ended with the compact car careening to a stop into the Perfect Timing lot. The Charger was disabled and blocking the center of Grand Avenue. The driver of the stolen car was screaming in apparent pain when he was loaded onto a stretcher.
The crash was the result of events which began around midnight, said Mike McDonald, 50, who is from Superior and was at an unknown storage unit when his car was stolen.
"I heard footsteps outside the unit," McDonald said. "All of a sudden he was driving off with my car. I had my hand on him — reaching through the door."
McDonald got a social media tip later Thursday, and met a Duluth police officer outside a home on 64th Avenue West. The man and officer had been outside the house, McDonald said, and at some point the officer left. McDonald continued to stake out the house, when a man came out and entered the stolen car.
That's when Sletten said he could hear screams from his backyard while he and a female were enjoying a sunny day shortly after 1 p.m.
"I'm pissed off," McDonald said. "The cops were watching the car and they left. That's what's upsetting. They put it back in my hands, and I had to locate my own vehicle again."