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Nine killed in Minnesota traffic crashes in one week

Fri, Feb 25th, 2011
Posted in State of Minnesota

ST. PAUL - According to preliminary Minnesota Department of Public Safety (DPS) traffic crash reports, nine people died during the last seven days (February 17-23), making it the deadliest period on the road in 2011.

DPS officials say the traffic death rate accelerated in February following a relatively safer January when 12 people were killed compared to 27 deaths during the first month in 2010. To date this year, there have been 32 deaths compared to 35 at this time in 2010.

"Improving Minnesota road safety is the responsibility of every driver," says Lt. Eric Roeske of the Minnesota State Patrol. "These fatal crashes demonstrate that it takes just one poor decision or one small lapse in judgment to lead to a tragic event on the road."

Roeske stresses that motorists buckle up, drive at safe speeds, pay attention and never drive impaired.

The nine deaths include:

• 4:18 p.m., Feb. 17 - Thomas Steven Briggs, 19, of Crookston, and Lawrence Louis Trudeau, 77, of Red Lake Falls, collided head-on on County Road 11 in Polk Co. Both died at the scene.

• 9:29 a.m., Feb. 17 - Ashley Meuwissen, 23, of Cologne, was broadsided by a vehicle while attempting to cross Hwy. 212 in Carver County.

• 3:26 p.m., Feb. 21 - John Kalas, 62, of Bloomington, was eastbound on I-94 in Stearns County when he spun out, hit a bridge wall and was struck by another vehicle. He died a day later.

• 6:52 p.m., Feb. 21 - A triple fatality crash on Hwy. 27 near Little Falls claimed the lives of Melissa Lorenz, 31; Angela Lorenz, 10; and Desiree Lorenz, 7, all of Flensburg. Their vehicle was westbound on Hwy. 27, crossed into oncoming traffic and hit an eastbound vehicle head-on. A third vehicle traveling westbound then crashed into the two vehicles.

• 8:03 a.m., Feb. 22 - Vanessa Vaj, 37, of Walnut Grove, was westbound on Hwy. 30 in Cottonwood County and collided with a semi-trailer traveling eastbound.

• 8:05 p.m., Feb 23 - William B. Hofman, 78, of Superior, Wis., lost control of his vehicle on Hwy. 133 in St. Louis County and was broadsided by a vehicle going in the opposite direction.

The state's traffic safety efforts are driven by its core traffic safety initiative, Toward Zero Deaths (TZD). A primary vision of the TZD program is to foster a safe driving culture in Minnesota in which motorists support a goal of zero road fatalities by practicing safe and smart driving behavior. TZD focuses on the application of four strategic areas to reduce crashes - education, enforcement, engineering and emergency trauma response.

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