WINNIPEG — It was supposed to be a fun post-Christmas getaway for two Winnipeg families.
But a series of tragic events on a North Dakota highway during a blinding snowstorm have left one woman dead and two children seriously injured.
Karla Mackenzie, 33, suffered fatal injuries after an SUV she was a passenger in was struck from behind by a semi-trailer on Interstate 29 near Drayton last Saturday afternoon.
Her three-year-old daughter was airlifted to a Minneapolis hospital, where she remains. Her husband, Steven Conner, was driving the vehicle and suffered minor injuries.
Two other passengers inside the vehicle were also hurt. Family friend Allison Lau and her three-year-old daughter also remain in hospital.
The driver of the semi, who is also from Winnipeg, was not injured.
Lau is listed in stable condition, while police would not comment on the condition of the children. However, they noted both girls were airlifted to Minneapolis while Lau was taken by ambulance to a Grand Forks, N.D., hospital.
The deadly crash happened only a short time after another collision involving Lau, her husband Ho and their daughter, according to friends.
The trio escaped injury after their vehicle was hit by a truck on the highway. Ho Lau stayed by their vehicle waiting for a tow truck to arrive while his wife and daughter went with Conner, Mackenzie and her daughter, who were travelling nearby and saw the initial crash.
Both families were on their way to Minneapolis, friends said on Thursday.
Mackenzie worked at Boeing and dozens of online tributes were being posted.
“They are the absolute sweetest people,” said lawyer and family friend Josh Weinstein.
Mackenzie’s father-in-law was Arnold Conner, a longtime Manitoba judge who died in December 2010.
» Winnipeg Free Press