EAGAN, Minn. -- A serious crash involving three vehicles, including a police cruiser, closed northbound Interstate 35E in Eagan for over seven hours Tuesday.
Eagan police confirmed that Officer Kade Eggum, 22, was responding to an emergency call when a semi struck his squad car on the interstate near Yankee Doodle Road at about 5 a.m. He was transported to Regions Hospital. As of Wednesday evening, he is in critical but stable condition.
According to the Minnesota State Patrol, Eggum was traveling in the right lane of 35E with the squad car's emergency lights activated. He attempted to make a left turn at a median crossover and collided with a northbound semi.
A third vehicle was hit on the passenger side before the squad came to rest in the center median.
Investigators say Eggum was cut out of the car and loaded into the ambulance, which he was inside for more than 20 minutes before he was rushed to Regions.
Outside the hospital, several Eagan police cars could be seen at the back entrance to the emergency room, offering support to the injured officer.
Taylow McKinzie saw the aftermath on her way to work Tuesday morning, a route she takes daily.
"I just saw lots and lots of lights, saw the smashed-in police vehicle, it was really sad. I was really hoping everyone was OK, it just looked really scary," McKinzie said. "At 22, he's so young, he just started his career. How that will impact him later I don't know. I just really hope that everything turns out to be OK for everyone."
MnDOT says a tank on the semi ruptured during the crash, creating a mess for cleanup.
The New Prague native has been with EPD for just over a year, the department said.
A mass Wednesday evening at St. John the Evangelist Catholic Church in New Prague was dedicated to Eggum. Father Eugene Theisen led his parishioners in prayer, asking for a quick and full recovery for the officer.
"We're bold in asking. We need to be bold in asking," Theisen said.
Parishioner Carol Sticha held back tears when talking about Eggum.
"Our son Curt works with Eagan Police Department and works with Kade, and we wish Kade the best, that he comes back the way he was," Sticha said. "Everybody is wishing him the best. Becca, his future bride is our neighbor. So we've been asked to the wedding and hopefully all will turn out well."
Angie Musil of New Prague was part of a group of soccer moms who took part in the mass service.
"We believe in the power of prayer and we've seen God heal many times, so we knew to come together would be a very powerful thing," Musil said.
Musil says she and the other moms know Eggum through their children.
"Just a strong, steady, good friend to all. He's getting married this June and just a stand-up guy," Musil said.
Father Theisen encouraged parishioners to take a "Prayer to St. Michael" card as they entered and left the service. The prayer is meant to provide protection to first responders like Eggum. Theisen called the timing of the delivery of the cards and act of providence.
"This week they came in. I ordered a bunch of them, I was going to put them out at some particular time. And sure enough, we have a police officer who's fallen and is in need of prayers," he said. "That's providence. That's God's grace working. That's the miracles."
His community is hoping those prayers work and that Eggum will be fully recovered in time for his summer wedding.
"The verse, 'Greater love has no one than this that would lay their life down for another.' He's a good role model for that. He lives that," Musil said, before adding a message for Eggum. "We love you, we're praying for you. We believe, we totally believe that you'll have a full recovery."
The Minnesota State Patrol is investigating the crash.
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