SIOUX FALLS, SD -
Sioux Falls Police say one person is dead and there are numerous injuries following a crash that happened around noon. Officers say a SUV going 65 to 100 miles per hour on Minnesota Avenue hit another SUV at the intersection with 41st Street. That set off a chain-reaction of crashes.
Whenever a crash involves a death, detectives spend hours studying the scene. But when it involves an intersection as busy as 41st Street and Minnesota Avenue, the situation is even more complex.
More than 41,000 cars pass through the intersection everyday, making it one of South Dakota's busiest intersections. Investigators have had the northbound lanes closed all afternoon to piece together exactly what happened. It's a complicated process that ends long after these lanes reopen.
"Basically, back up what happened. You start at the beginning and you start at the crash and work your way back to find out what happened," Sioux Falls Police Lt. Jerome Miller said.
Miller says it's like piecing together a giant puzzle. The stakes are literally life and death. Hours after the high-speed crash, reconstruction crews remained on scene creating a roadmap that could point to charges.
"In this particular one, we had a fair number of witnesses because of the time of day. If this was at 2 a.m., sometimes you don't have any witnesses," Miller said.
Police are working thoroughly and swiftly. Portions of both Minnesota Avenue and 41st Street stayed closed to traffic all afternoon. But they know a closed intersection on two major streets means backlogged traffic come rush hour.
"You don't jump to conclusions in an investigation like this. You weigh and put the whole picture together before you start making judgements on what you are or aren't going to do," Miller said.
Police even brought in survey crews from the city to help take measurements, speeding up the process. Once this work is done, another team of officers will take over to pinpoint just how fast the vehicles were going and exactly what went wrong.
"You see the number of officers working on this thing. And once we clear out from here, it's not over," Miller said.
After work wraps up here, Miller says officers have pages and pages of formulas they will plug their data measurements into to help pinpoint speeds and other accident factors. They'll add in witness statements and relay all the information to the Minnehaha County State's Attorney who the decides which drivers are charged and what charges he or she face.
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