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Victim in fatal Cottage Grove crash identified (w/video)

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Gordon Matthew Babbs, 52, of North Oaks was killed in a car fire early Saturday in Cottage Grove. (Image from video by Sommer Robbins)2 / 4
Crash reconstruction markings indicate where a vehicle left Innovation Road and crashed in a field early Saturday. The driver was killed in a fire that engulfed the vehicle in the crash. (Photo courtesy of Cottage Grove Police Department)3 / 4
Debris from a vehicle that crashed early Saturday is strewn in a field near Innovation Road and Highway 61 in Cottage Grove. Police say speed was a factor in the fiery crash, which killed the driver. (Photo courtesy of Cottage Grove Police Department)4 / 4

Authorities have identified the victim of a fatal crash in Cottage Grove.

Gordon Matthew Babbs, 52, of North Oaks was killed in the fiery rollover early Saturday, police said Tuesday.

Babbs was found dead inside a 2016 Lincoln MKX that had burned after crashing in a field near Innovation Road and Highway 61, police said. The identification was made by the Ramsey County medical examiner’s office. The preliminary cause of death is “severe thermal injuries,” but a laboratory analysis is pending, according to the police statement.

Police and fire crews were called about 12:30 a.m. for a car fire, and the vehicle was engulfed in flames when they arrived.

According to police reports, the vehicle was headed southbound on Innovation Road at a high rate of speed and after crossing over Highway 61, it left the right side of the road and crashed through a fence and into 3M property, Cottage Grove police Capt. Pete Koerner said. The vehicle rolled several times before coming to a stop on the passenger side roughly 50 yards from the road.

Babbs’ body was found wedged inside the vehicle, Koerner said. Babbs was the lone occupant.

The State Patrol, which was helping with the crash investigation, found skid marks on the road near the crash scene but it was not clear whether the driver had attempted to brake before leaving the road, Koerner said.

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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