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Authorities: Alcohol a factor in crash on Highway 61 in Cottage Grove

Authorities say alcohol use played a role in a near head-on crash late Saturday in Cottage Grove.

Two people were injured in the crash at about 10 p.m. on Highway 61 near 80th Street, and one was airlifted to an area hospital.

According to the State Patrol:

A Dodge Journey driven by Nicole S. Hanebuth, 28, of Sartell, Minn., was traveling southbound in the northbound lanes of the highway. A northbound Toyota Camry driven by Chao Xiong, 47, of Minneapolis, attempted to swerve to avoid Hanebuth's car but the two collided.

A Newport police officer reported seeing the vehicle enter the wrong direction of highway traffic from 70th Street, and the crash happened moments later, according to Cottage Grove police.

Hanebuth, whose vehicle was traveling the wrong way, was transported by medical helicopter to Regions Hospital in St. Paul with non-life-threatening injuries. Alcohol was detected in her system, according to the report.

Xiong was not reported injured, but a passenger in his vehicle -- Mandi Lee, 28, of Minneapolis -- was transported to Regions Hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

The State Patrol is investigating the crash.

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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