MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The world held its breath on Sunday afternoon when a semi-truck drove into a crowd of thousands of protesters on Interstate 35W, speaking out against the death of George Floyd.
Thankfully, no one was seriously hurt or died when that semi driver drove into the protest.
A 35-year-old truck driver from Otsego is in jail this morning after the incident. He’s identified as Bogdan Vechirko. Authorities say he got onto the bridge as they were closing the interstate down around 5:45 p.m. MnDOT had planned to close highways at 8 p.m. last night, but then moved up that closing time to 5 p.m.
As of now, the driver faces possible assault charges, but the driver may have been confused about the time the highways were closing.
On Monday morning, Department of Public Safety commissioner John Harrington says all preliminary investigation indicates that what at first appeared to be a potentially deliberate event may have instead been merely accidental, and “possibly a miracle” that no one was seriously injured.
Harrington added that, when it became clear the size of the group that was going to be on the I-35W Bridge, they put in a request to MnDOT to push up the start time of the road closures.
Harrington: Still need more detals, but tanker truck driver does not appear to have been targeting protesters.
— Patrick Kessler (@PatKessler) June 1, 2020
Harrington said that, according to the early investigation, the truck was already on the freeway when it shut down, and the fuel tank was empty. It does appear the driver was going about 70 before applying the brakes.
Gov. Tim Walz said that the driver has told investigators he is grateful no one was hurt, and that the driver was lucky Minnesotans “showed their better angels” on that bridge Sunday.
Lt. Gen. Jon Jensen said that, as the truck approached the bridge, one soldier from the National Guard reportedly fired three rounds from a rifle. An investigation into that part of the incident is also ongoing.
NEW: John Harrington says the semi truck driver didn’t cross barricades, was on the highway before it was sealed, he was speeding, he saw the crowd, “and he panicked. And he kept barreling forward.” GOVERNOR: “someone did something incredibly stupid, and he got lucky.”
— Jason DeRusha (@DeRushaJ) June 1, 2020
Source: CBS Minnesota