Fatal Two-Vehicle Crash in Balsam Lake Township Thursday

The Polk County Sheriff has released information on a two-vehicle crash that occurred on Thursday, September 20th, just before 7pm.  The crash occurred on County Road “Eye” in the curve at 160th Street, in the Town of Balsam Lake.  It was initially reported that there were three people injured in the crash.  Initial investigation of the crash indicated that Valerie Church, age 60 of rural Luck, was traveling east bound on County Road “Eye” 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, age 57 also of rural Luck.  At that same time, Bryce Carlson, age 31 of Burnsville, Minnesota, 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, age 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 but could not, 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 Saint Croix Regional Medical Center.  While at the hospital, James Church died from his injuries.  Valerie Church and the passenger of the truck, Whitney Pederson, were transported to Regions Hospital in Sain 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.