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Bemidji, Backus women injured in crash

Emergency personnel investigate a scene of a two-vehicle crash involving a semitrailer Wednesday, July 11, along Highway 371, south of Brainerd near the Welcome Center. Jennifer Kraus | Forum News Service

CROW WING COUNTY -- A Bemidji woman and a Backus woman suffered life-threatening injuries after their car collided with a semi-trailer Wednesday in Crow Wing County.

According to the Minnesota State Patrol, Colleen Marie Epeneter, 69, of Backus, and Brenda Marie Epeneter, 41, of Bemidji, were traveling west on Koering Road in a Toyota Corolla at about 11:29 a.m. As the Corolla approached the southbound side of Highway 371 it entered into the highway’s southbound lanes and was hit by a Western Star CNV semi.

The truck driver, identified as Gabriel John Rybaski, 41, of Pierz, Minn., sustained non-life-threatening injuries and was taken to St. Gabriel’s Hospital in Little Falls. Brenda Epenter, the passenger in the Corolla, was also taken to St. Gabriel’s and Colleen Epenter was taken to North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale, Minn. All three people involved in the crash were wearing seat belts.

Colleen Epeneter was listed in critical condition as of Wednesday afternoon. A condition report for Brenda Epeneter was not immediately available.