POLK COUNTY -- A two-vehicle crash in the Town of Balsam Lake has resulted in one death and has left two others with serious injuries, according to a press release from the Polk County Sheriff's Office.

(Press Release) -- On Thursday September 20th 2018, at 1856 hours, the Polk County Sheriff’s Office began receiving reports of a two vehicle crash on County Road I/170th Avenue in the curve at 160th Street, in the Town of Balsam Lake. It was initially reported that there were three people possibly injured in the crash.


Initial investigation of the crash indicates that Valerie Church, 60, of rural Luck was traveling east bound on County Road I in a Dodge Journey SUV. At that time, the Church vehicle was entering into the right hand curve where County Road I turns back to the east. Also in the Church vehicle was passenger James Church, 57, also of rural Luck.


At that same time, Bryce Carlson, 31, Burnsville, MN, was traveling west bound on County Road I, approaching the Church vehicle where the road curves to the south. Carlson was operating a Chevrolet Silverado Truck. Also in the Carlson truck was passenger Whitney Pederson, 21, of rural Cushing.

As the vehicles approached one another, it appears that the Church vehicle crossed the center line and entered into the west bound travel lane. Carlson said he tried to steer out of the way of the Church vehicle, however he was unable to and the vehicles collided. The brunt of the damage was to the front end, right of center of both vehicles.


Both occupants of the Church vehicle were taken by ambulance to the St Croix Regional Medical Center. While at the hospital, James Church succumbed to the injuries sustained in the crash and passed away. Valerie Church and the passenger of the truck, Whitney Pederson, were transported to Regions Hospital in St Paul for serious injuries.


Heavy rain that was occurring at the time of the crash is believed to be a contributing factor in the crash. The crash remains under investigation by the Polk County Sheriff’s Office.

Assisting the Polk County Sheriff’s Officer with this incident were the Balsam Lake Fire and First Responders, Luck Area Ambulance Service, St Croix Valley EMS Service and the Polk County Medical Examiner’s Office.



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