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SUV vaulted over tow truck in fatal crash near Brandon

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A 2014 Jeep Grand Cherokee involved in a fatal crash on Interstate 90 Tuesday night drove onto the back of a flatbed tow truck before vaulting over the cab and rolling, the South Dakota Highway Patrol says.

The driver of the Jeep, a 43-year-old woman, was driving east on Interstate 90 near Brandon when she collided with a tow truck that was trying to pull another car out of the median, Highway Patrol spokesman Tony Mangan said.

The woman drove onto the lowered flatbed of the tow truck and the Jeep vaulted over the cab and rolled, throwing the woman from the vehicle, Mangan said. She was not wearing a seatbelt. 

The woman died at the scene of the crash. Her name has not yet been released publicly. The 28-year-old man driving the tow truck was not hurt.

Brenda Kimpling was driving home to Ellsworth, Minnesota, with her granddaughters in the backseat when she saw the tow truck pulled off to the side of the road on the left side. As she neared it, she said an SUV tried to pass her vehicle. The SUV then drove up the back of the tow truck.

As Kimpling continued on, she saw the SUV become airborne before it landed on the road behind her and rolled. Afraid that the vehicle would collide with hers, Kimpling hit the gas and got off the interstate as quickly as she could.

"(It) just started twirling in the air," Kimpling said. "I was just numb."

Kimpling said the tow truck had its taillights on, but no flashing lights. She suspects the lack of flashing amber lights may have contributed to the cause of the crash.

"(The driver) must not have seen it," Kimpling said.

South Dakota law says tow trucks are allowed to have flashing lights, similar to those on police or other emergency vehicles, but that drivers are only allowed to use them when actively helping move a disabled vehicle or if law enforcement requests them for safety purposes.

Highway Patrol spokesman Tony Mangan said the cause of the crash, along with whether or not the tow truck used its flashing lights, is still being investigated.

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