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Girl dies after I-94 semi crash

A young Woodbury girl, severely injured in a crash on I-94 last Wednesday, later died of her injuries.

Four-year-old Sumalya Kalid was in the back seat of a Toyota Camry, which was struck from behind by a semi-trailer truck March 12.

Kalid, who was initially helped on the scene by a passing surgeon, Dr. Jay Shake, and resuscitated by EMS crews from Woodbury, died at Gillette Children's Hospital in St. Paul Friday morning, March 14.

Shake, a cardiovascular and thoracic surgeon at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, who resides in Woodbury, had just driven onto the freeway when he noticed the accident and stopped to see if he could help.

"I saw that this trailer had hit this car, and there was significant damage to the car," explained Shake. "The mother was screaming, 'Help me, help me.' I could see the four-year-old was propped up so she was leaning forward between the two front seats."

Shake stabilized her neck, and performed a "jaw thrust" on the girl to clear her airway before paramedics arrived to help remove her from the vehicle.

He followed the ambulance to Regions Hospital, where he monitored Kalid's progress before he was forced to leave for a conference in Baltimore.

Distraught mother

"The mother was very distraught, understandably," Shake added, speaking of the team's efforts to free the girl. "She was telling me that the child was born prematurely and she kept saying, 'I don't want to lose her this way.'

"It was pretty emotional. As a parent, I think that would be just one of the most horrific things, to see your child injured like that and just be helpless. I have thought about it a lot."

He says he would like to meet Kalid's mother, Khadra Ali, and has heard that Ali has expressed an interest to also meet him.

It was the second time in his life that Shake stepped forward to offer his medical skills in a road accident.

About five years ago, he was driving on the east coast when he saw a rollover car ahead.

He went to the aid of the trapped driver, keeping his airway free for 15 minutes until paramedics arrived.

He does not know if the victim in that case survived, as no one ever contacted him.

In the case of the I-94 crash, he does know the tragic outcome.

"She had a pretty significant head injury. We gave it our best shot, but sometimes it doesn't work," Shake said of Kalid. "I wish I could have done more."

Funeral held for girl

Kalid's funeral was held later on Friday, according to family spokesman Omar Jamal, who is the executive director of the Somali Justice Advocacy Center in St. Paul.

According to the Minnesota State Patrol website, it appeared that Kalid's mother, Khadra Ali, who was driving the Toyota Camry at the time of the accident, slowed or stopped in the center lane of westbound I-94 just west of Radio Drive, Woodbury.

The vehicle was then struck from behind by the semi.

Ali, 37, suffered non-life threatening injuries and Kalid's sister, one-year-old Abyan, did not appear to have any injuries.

The family lives in Woodbury.

"We are still trying to understand how the accident took place," family spokesman Jamal said. "The information we have is that she slowed down on I-94, but we don't know why she slowed down -- it may be a driving issue.

"The family was devastated today -- they focused on the funeral of Kalid."

He added that both the family and the advocacy center wished to pay tribute to the efforts of Dr Shake.

The driver of the freightliner, who was named as Kenneth Ortner, from Spring Valley, Wis., was reported as having no apparent injuries.

State Patrol Lt. Mark Peterson said he could not speculate on the reasons for the slowing or stopping of the Camry before the investigation was complete.

"Whenever we have a crash of this nature, we do a reconstruction, and that's an extensive investigation where we look at physical evidence from the scene," he said, adding that officers would also be interviewing the drivers and witnesses involved.

"We have thoughts and ideas but we don't draw any conclusions yet.

"It's going to be weeks [before we know]."