A seven-car car crash killed a taxi driver and closed westbound Interstate 494 traffic early Monday morning in Bloomington, Minn.
"Horrible, absolutely horrible," recalled Robert Duchscher, who got tangled up in the crash during his commute. "You don't expect that on an early Monday morning on the way to work."
Duchscher was with his wife when a semi grazed his truck, taking off his side mirror before T-boning a taxi.
"We held hands and said a prayer, thanked the Lord we're alive because -- quite frankly -- we probably shouldn't have been," Duchscher said.
The crash happened around 5 a.m. on westbound I-494, just west of France Avenue.
State Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske said a van ran out of gas and stalled in the right lane of 494, which caused a three-car crash. A few minutes later, the taxi approaching in the right lane slowed down, but was rear-ended by a Chevy SUV and spun into the middle lane, sideswiping a car. The cab spun sideways and was then hit by a semi, killing the driver.
The taxi driver was identified as 57-year-old Nadir Ombabi of Burnsville, Minn. Duchscher told FOX 9 News he ran out to try to help Ombabi, but it was too late.
"You ask 911 what you can do, and there isn't a whole lot at that point," Duchscher said.
After spending 32 years as owner of Northstar Taxi, Gamal Eshmawi said the crash marked the first time he has ever lost a driver.
"I lost one of the best I ever had," Eshmawi said of Ombabi. "This is the worst day I've ever seen. It's very tough for me -- really sad. He's not just a driver; he was a very, very good friend."
Ombabi was a doctor from Sudan, and was in the process of getting his medical license in the United States. Eshmawi described him as a highly-educated man and a well-respected driver who was just trying to support his wife and children back home.
"It's really, really sad. God help his family," Eshmawi said.
Investigators say the crash never should have happened because the driver of the stalled van, 49-year-old Isidoro Burgos-Corona, had a revoked driver's license. Burgos-Corona also has a history of both driving without insurance and driving after revocation charges. He is currently in the Hennepin County Jail and is being held on an immigration violation.
"It makes you angry. It makes you sad," Duchscher told FOX 9 News. "I hope he's locked up. I hope he's locked up for a very long time."
The crash closed all westbound traffic from Interstate 35W, and 494 remained closed through the majority of the morning rush.
The medical examiner's office was on the scene by 7:30 a.m. to remove the body. At least one other person was also injured in the crash.
Interstate 35W, Highway 77 and Highway 62 were each clogged with traffic Monday morning, taking the detoured commuters from 494.
LIST OF PEOPLE INVOLVED IN CRASH