PILLAGER-A two-car, head-on collision on Highway 210 near Pillager killed two people and seriously injured a third Friday.

The Minnesota State Patrol said at 12:22 p.m. a 2007 Chevrolet Cobalt driven by James Freeman, 51, of Brainerd was westbound when it crossed the centerline and collided with a 2005 Toyota Prius driven by Marilyn Rich, 66, Fargo, N.D. traveling east. The drivers of both vehicles suffered fatal injuries.

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Gene Rich, 81, who was his wife's front passenger in the Prius, was airlifted from the scene by a North Memorial Air Care helicopter with serious injuries. Gene Rich was transported to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale.

The road conditions were dry, and all three crash victims were wearing their seat belts, the state patrol reported.

Emergency workers closed the highway for about two hours as they cleared the scene east of Pillager, near Sylvan Town Hall. Traffic was rerouted.

One vehicle apparently came to rest in the ditch near the eastbound lane, while the other remained on the highway itself. Emergency workers could be seen laying out a tarp near the car in the ditch. Debris littered the highway.

Pillager Area Fire and Rescue Chief Randy Lee said both drivers needed to be extricated from the cars, so his department called for mutual aid from the Brainerd Fire Department.

Additional responding agencies included North Memorial Ambulance, the Cass County Sheriff's Office, the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the Baxter Police Department and the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office.

ZACH KAYSER may be reached at 218-855-5860 or Zach.Kayser@brainerddispatch.com. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/ZWKayser.