Wrong-way crash July 27 injures 3

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COTTAGE GROVE — Three people were injured, one seriously, after a wrong-way, head-on collision July 27 on Highway 61 in Cottage Grove. The driver of one of the cars was arrested after refusing a breathalyzer test.

The Minnesota State Patrol reported that Maria Melendez of St. Paul was driving northbound on Highway 61 from 80th Street shortly after 7 p.m. when her 1998 Toyota Camry collided with a southbound 2012 Camry driven by Christian McCormick Ellis, also of St. Paul.

Police said that Ellis had been traveling the wrong way on Highway 61 from the junction of Interstate 494. Melendez tried to avoid a crash but the vehicles slammed into each other at their respective front passenger sides. Both were heavily damaged.

Melendez's vehicle came to rest on the center skid stripe. She suffered a possible broken arm and a cut to the head, while a 14-year-old passenger was seriously injured. Both were wearing seat belts.

A 4-year-old passenger in the same car was wearing a forward-facing child restraint system and sustained minor injuries. All three were transported to the hospital.

The Camry driven by Ellis ended up in the cable median barrier.

A Washington County Sheriff's deputy, Cottage Grove Police and the Minnesota State Patrol responded.

Trooper Leif Vandersteen reported that Ellis smelled of alcohol. Vandersteen obtained a warrant for Ellis's blood after he refused a field sobriety test. Ellis is expected to be charged with DWI and felony criminal vehicular operation pending the results of a blood test.