Published August 29, 2016
BLAINE, MINNESOTA — The Minnesota Star Tribune is reporting Michael Allen Johnson, 28, the driver of a vehicle crash that left two Keweenaw Bay Indian Community firefighters dead, may face felony charges.
Johnson was arrested and is being held Anoka County Jail.
He is a member of the Beartown firefighters crew and was driving eight other firefighters on Saturday from Baraga, Michigan to assist to fight the Box Canyon wildfire in Utah. At 3:08 p.m., Johnson was driving on I-35W in Blaine, a suburb of Minneapolis, and “left the roadway for an unknown reason, struck the median cable barriers, and rolled.”
All occupants of the truck were injured. Alan Swartz, 25, and James Shelifoe, 23, were killed. The others were taken to various hospitals. Citing privacy laws, the Keweenaw Bay Indian Community is not sharing specific information on the condition of the firefighters, but all are expected to recover.
According to the Minnesota State Patrol, Johnson was wearing a seat belt and stated it has not yet been determined if alcohol was a factor in the tragic accident.
The truck occupants were members of the Beartown Firefighters, a crew that has been trained to fight wildfires and is jointly managed by the Tribe and the Bureau of Indian Affairs.
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