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Infant son in critical condition Monday after Sunday's crash

BAXTER — An infant, who was injured in Sunday’s crash at the intersection of Highways 371 and 210 in Baxter, was in critical condition Monday at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale.

The child, Braxton Cherry, is the infant son of the minivan driver, Jason Cherry, 32, Staples, the State Patrol reported. Jason Cherry was taken to Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Brainerd where he was treated and then released.

Fifteen people in four vehicles were involved in a series of collisions that began when the minivan was struck broadside by a pickup truck. Four North Memorial Ambulance crews responded to the intersection moments after the crash was reported at 3:37 p.m. Sunday. The State Patrol was still investigating the crash to determine the sequence of events. Road conditions were icy, but it’s unclear if the weather played a role in the crash or if other factors were involved in placing the minivan in the intersection.

The State Patrol reported which drivers had red or green signal lights at the intersection couldn’t be verified at this time.

The minivan had six occupants. The other passengers, all from Staples, were Nicole Mollner, 31, a friend of Jason Cherry, and Akika Mollner, 4, Heileigh Mollner, 9, and Justin Mollner, 7. The Brainerd Fire Department was called to extricate Nicole Mollner, who was trapped in the minivan wreckage. She suffered a non life-threatening injury, the State Patrol reported. Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center did not release a condition update on Nicole Mollner. The other occupants, except for Braxton Cherry, were taken to the hospital in Brainerd where they were treated and then released.

The State Patrol reported the minivan was traveling north on Highway 371 when it was struck on the passenger side by a westbound pickup driven by Jesse Strand, 22, Brainerd. Strand was not injured.

The minivan struck two other stationary southbound vehicles, that were carrying eight people between them. No one in the stationary vehicles was transported for medical treatment, including the drivers Christopher Young, 43, White Bear Lake, and Joey Dean, 35, Little Falls.

Mark Stansberry, North Memorial Ambulance operations supervisor, reported it has been some time since they’ve had to respond to a crash with so many victims.

“The system worked,” Stansberry said, adding that multiple vehicle crash is one of the things they train to handle.

A nurse, Patti Herzog, traveling in a vehicle right behind one of the trucks struck by the minivan was able to provide assistance at the scene, providing cardiopulmonary resuscitation to Braxton Cherry.

A witness reported the child was blue and not breathing when Herzog pulled him from the vehicle and provided medical aid, but the child regained color and was breathing shallowly when police arrived.

Two fire engines and about 20 firefighters were at the Highway 371/210 crash scene. Crow Wing County Sheriff’s deputies, North Ambulance, Baxter police officers and State Patrol troopers all responded to the intersection.

RENEE RICHARDSON may be reached at 855-5852 or Follow on Twitter at

JENNIFER STOCKINGER may be reached at 855-5851. Follow on Twitter at