Bloomington police confirmed that a man was killed when an oversized truck hit a non-structural beam on the west ramp at the Mall of America, causing a wall of concrete to fall on the truck.
"It almost sounded like a bomb, and then his horn was going off as well," witness Steve Miller told FOX 9 News. "The first thing I thought when I looked at it, reminded me of the 35W bridge."
Miller was shopping at Nordstroms on Friday night and was among the first to reach the truck and find the then-conscious driver.
The Hennepin County Medical Examiner says 52-year-old Raheem Waheed died after hitting a beam that crashed down on the cab of the truck. He was responsive, but emergency responders were unable to revive him after he was crushed by the collapsed concrete. He died at the scene.
Waheed didn't have a permanent address, but our records show he recently lived in Duluth.
The parking ramp has warning poles hanging that should have hit the truck alerting Waheed. It's not clear if he noticed before continuing into the ramp.
The two passengers who had been in the van at the time of the crash -- a 45-year-old woman and her 12-year-old daughter, got out of the truck before emergency responders had arrived. They were taken to a nearby hospital and are expected to recover.
Witness statements and video footage of the crash suggest it was an accident. Officials say the height of the truck was just too tall for the ramp entrance.
"This was an accident," Deputy Chief Rick Hart, of the Bloomington Police Department, told FOX 9 News. "From what I know of the mall, there are hanging signs that show clearance. That would obviously show you shouldn't go. My guess is that he misjudged the height of the truck."
The height restrictions inside the garage have a posted clearance of 7 feet.
FOX 9 News also spoke 19-year-old Anthony Stands, who witnessed the crash and rushed to help.
"All of a sudden, I heard a loud boom," he recalled. "Sounded like a train."
Stands said instinct kicked in for him, but the experience was still surreal.
"It felt like a movie, he said. "I didn't think it was real."
When he saw the driver was pinned, Stands said he knew he needed to do something. He and four other Good Samaritans nearby tried to move the heavy slabs of concrete, but they couldn't budge it. That's when Stands said he turned to comfort and prayer.
"He grabbed my hand and said, 'Don't leave me,'" Stands told FOX 9 News. "I said, 'God is with you,' and he started talking about his children -- he had three kids."
Sadly, the driver did not live to see any of his children again.
A small section of the ramp will remain closed for the weekend, but mall-goers can still use the ramp by entering from Killebrew Drive.
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