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Second body recovered from Minnehaha Academy explosion

Plus: Minnesota medical marijuana suppliers’ registrations renewed; report on buyers of sex in Minnesota; truck destroys 47 lights in Lowry Hill Tunnel; and more.

First responders on the scene at the Minnehaha Academy upper school explosion on Wednesday.
Craig Lassig

The Strib’s Paul Walsh, Libor Jany and Miguel Otárola continued updating the Minnehaha Academy explosion story thoughout the day. “Minnehaha Academy senior Chimali Day was in the school counselor’s office, her parents by her side when the sudden warning came. ‘Get out!’ a staffer cried, breaking the Wednesday morning calm on the upper school campus. ‘There’s a gas leak’. Day leapt for the door just as the center of the south Minneapolis private school building exploded, the blast knocking her to the floor. Day’s mother jumped on top of her, instinctively sheltering her child with her body. … The teenager was among the students and staff who escaped the natural gas explosion that killed receptionist Ruth Berg, 47, and janitor John F. Carlson, 82, and injured nine other people, one critically. Fire officials said the two bodies were found near each other, both on the south side of the rubble.”

WCCO-TV’s Bill Hudson had an early read on the boiler maintenance crew working in the building at the time of the explosion.

MPR’s story says, “The body of John Carlson, presumed missing most of the day, was pulled from the rubble around 8 p.m., the chief said. … In order for a gas leak to turn into an explosion, there needs to be a ‘perfect storm’ of conditions, said Mark McDonald, president of NatGas Consulting. Blasts occur only in confined spaces where the air has gas concentrations of between 5 and 15 percent, he said. Then there needs to be an ignition source to spark the gas.”

For People magazine Alexia Fernandez reports on the receptionist killed in the blast. “Ruth Berg, who was identified by CBS Minnesota, was pulled from the rubble at about 2:45 p.m. following the gas leak explosion. Her fiancé, Mark Burrington, told the outlet they were planning on getting married in October. Berg, 47, was a receptionist at the Minnehaha Academy and worked there for 17 years. School officials told CBS Minnesota that ‘she welcomed everyone with a smile and was always willing to go the extra mile to help our students, families, and staff.’”

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Not that exactly serving a vast consumer base you understand. Jeremy Olson of the Strib reports, “Minnesota’s two medical marijuana growers received state approval Wednesday to continue supplying cannabis to patients, even though one was ensnared in a criminal case involving ex-employees who allegedly smuggled a half-million dollars worth of cannabis oil out of the state. The state health commissioner, Dr. Ed Ehlinger, said he re-registered Minnesota Medical Solutions and LeafLine Labs for two more years after reviewing their medical and economic contributions since the state legalized medical cannabis in 2015.”

Beware of … married white men. Says Stephanie Dickrell of the St. Cloud Times, “A report released Wednesday answers very basic questions about the people who buy sex in Minnesota, addressing a major gap in the research nationwide. The information is key in finding other ways to combat sex trafficking in the state, said Mary Beth Hanson, vice president of external relations, Women’s Foundation of Minnesota. … Data confirm that sex buyers are predominantly middle-aged, white, married men from across Minnesota. Men of color and women purchase sex in much lower numbers.  They come from a wide variety of employment sectors: businessmen, doctors, lawyers, dentists, judges, professors, police officers, correctional officers, pastors, executives, truck drivers, manual laborers, farmers and sailors.”

Oh come on, man! There are signs all over the place. Tim  Harlow of the Strib reports, “The driver of a semitrailer truck who illegally drove through the Lowry Hill Tunnel last week and damaged overhead lighting might be getting a hefty bill from the Minnesota Department of Transportation. That is, as soon as officials identify the driver. A video released Tuesday shows the westbound big rig with the letters JNJ displayed on the top of its cab rounding the curve inside the tube during last Friday’s morning rush hour and its trailer clipping off 47 lights affixed to the wall adjacent to the inside lane as it passed through.”

Speaking of, an MPR story says, “The Minnesota Department of Transportation plans to begin … closing Interstate 94 east at the tunnel from midnight Thursday until 5 a.m. Friday, with traffic taking the Hennepin/Lyndale exit. Interstate 394 east to I-94 east through the tunnel remains open during this tunnel closure. Traffic will shift to the westbound side of the tunnel. Drivers will see two lanes in each direction with a concrete barrier in the middle and a 40 mph speed limit, MnDOT said Wednesday. Large trucks and buses are prohibited. Drivers taking I-394 east to I-94 east will continue to be able to use the eastbound tunnel until Aug. 14. Then the ramp from I-394 to I-94 east will close until Aug. 28 for improvements, MnDOT added.” Tape it to your dashboard.

Are they offering on-line classes in “Cult Leader” somewhere? Says Sarah Horner in the PiPress, “A St. Paul acting instructor accused of lewd conduct with two young girls had a piece of paper in his wallet that outlined his goal to someday start a cult, authorities say. … The mother pushed for more information and later obtained video footage of the class captured on the Riverside Library’s surveillance system. The video showed Barghini instructing the 10-year-old to lie on her stomach on the couch with her feet exposed, court documents say. Barghini then removed her socks and shoes and proceeded to bury his face in her feet while he masturbated, the complaint said.”