OLMSTED COUNTY, Minn. -- A wrong-way head-on crash killed six people in southeastern Minnesota on Friday, Aug. 2, including three family members from Waukesha.
A Ford Focus carrying the Eagle family from Waukesha was heading eastbound in the westbound lanes of Interstate 90 when it collided with a westbound Chrysler Sebring at around 1:30 a.m., causing one of the cars to catch fire. All three people in each car were killed.
The three in Ford Focus were Sheila Eagle, 54, who was driving, Tamara Eagle, 29, and Nyobee Eagle Richardson, 11 -- family members from Waukesha. FOX6 News learned Sheila Eagle was a nurse for nearly 20 years. Nyobee Eagle Richardson was Tamara Eagle's daughter, and was about to start seventh grade at Horning Middle School. A GoFundMe.com account set up for the family said Nyobee Eagle Richardson wanted to be a doctor, and would have turned 12 in September.
The Eagle family was on their way to a funeral in South Dakota -- passing through Minnesota in their Ford Focus.
The family issued this statement to FOX6 News:
"We would like to thank everyone who has reached out to us in regards to this tragedy. We are all extremely devastated by this loss. We would like to also extend our deepest sympathies to the other families that were affected by this. Nothing will bring back our loved ones. We ask the public not to engage in speculation in regards to the conflicting reports about the crash. This is a severely tragic accident, and they will all be sadly missed.
Sheila has been a nurse here in Wisconsin for nearly 20 years. Many of you in the Waukesha area may know her daughter, Tamara, who graduated from North High School. Nyobee was super excited to start her seventh grade year at Horning Middle School Flight Academy, where we know she had many friends and classmates.
We have created a GoFundMe page gf.me/u/uihjbq . Please, any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you!"
The three people in the Sebring were Christopher Peterson, 26, and Ester Peters, 47, both of Rochester, Minnesota, and Shayla Peterson, 23, of Paynesville, Minnesota. Christopher Peterson was driving.
"We just lost three people in our lives that were very important to all of us — all at the same time," Dawn Meyer, a close friend of the Peterson family, told Minnesota's FOX9. "I don't know what to call it. It's unbelievable."
At least three of the six victims were not wearing seat belts.
"As we head into the final weeks of summer, please remember that the lives of families can change in the blink of an eye," Minnesota State Patrol Lt. Heath Dienger said at a news conference. "Please drive the speed limit, buckle up, drive distraction-free, and always line up a sober ride if you choose to drink."
The highway was closed for hours while investigators reconstructed the crash to determine which car had been going the wrong way and how fast each was going. Authorities were also investigating whether the wrong-way driver was impaired.
It was the deadliest crash on Minnesota roads since 2010, when another crash took the lives of six people, the state patrol said.
"Every fatality is a tragedy, and we do our best to try and prevent those through enforcement and education," said Dienger.