Minnesota saw numerous pedestrian deaths from car crashes this week, highlighting a nationwide surge in the pedestrian fatality rate. Despite a decrease in the number of miles driven during the pandemic, there were 6,721 pedestrian deaths in the U.S. in 2020, resulting in a 21% increase from 2019. This is the largest annual increase involving motor vehicle crashes since the government’s tracking system was established in 1975. The likely causes for the surge include reckless and dangerous driving such as speeding, drunk and drugged driving, and distraction.

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Greater need for increased safety measures as pedestrian deaths continue to rise

According to a report from the Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA), the 2020 increase follows a decade-long trend of rising pedestrian deaths, which increased by 46 percent from 2010-2019. In the report, the GHSA cites the following as contributing factors.

  1. As SUV sales dominate the U.S. auto market, the risk to pedestrians becomes more deadly. From 2010-2019, the number of pedestrian deaths from SUV crashes increased at a faster rate (69 percent) than that of passenger cars (46 percent).
  2. Pedestrian deaths occur more often during nighttime hours. From 2019-2020, there was a 54 percent increase in fatalities at night, versus a 16 percent increase during the day.
  3. Warmer temperatures that encourage outdoor activities and alcohol consumption also increases the risk of fatal pedestrian crashes. Alcohol impairment was reported in nearly half of the crashes that resulted in pedestrian deaths.
  4. An analysis of pedestrian deaths by race and population data for 2015-2019 found that drivers struck and killed a larger proportion of BIPOC pedestrians than expected based on their respective share of the population.

The GHSA report also highlighted a need for increased safety measures to reduce pedestrian deaths and injuries, including engineering and road design improvements for safer crossings and better street lighting, public education, emergency response, and equitable enforcement.

Minnesota Pedestrian Crashes

Pedestrian Walking Dog in Blaine Killed in Hit and Run Crash

A pedestrian walking her dog in Blaine was killed in a hit-and-run crash on Monday, October 255, 2021. Police say the crash happened near the intersection of 109 Avenue Northeast and Flanders Court Northeast. Bridget O’Keefe Dunn was walking her dog on the side of the road when she was struck by a vehicle driving west on 109th Ave. Dunn was airlifted to a nearby hospital where her death was confirmed. The driver, John R. Jones (31) was charged with criminal vehicular homicide. At the time of the crash, he was driving with a suspended license.

Pedestrian Struck and Injured in St. Cloud

On Wednesday, October 20, 2021, a pedestrian was struck and injured in St. Cloud. The crash happened when Dontel Dawon Dawson (28) was crossing an unmarked crosswalk on Highway 10, just south of the Highway 23 overpass. A car, driven by Alexa Mercedes Wendt (26) was unable to stop before striking Dawson. Dawson was taken to St. Cloud Hospital where he is in stable condition.

Pedestrian Run Over and Killed by Car in Alexandria

A 76-year-old man from Golden Valley was struck and killed by a driver in Alexandria on Thursday, October 14, 2021. The incident happened at the intersection of 3rd Avenue and Hawthorne Street. Mauno Silpala was taken to Alomere Health where he later died. Police say that the driver, Jennifer Erickson (39) of Alexandria, remained at the scene.

Woman Using Mobility Scooter Fatally Struck While Crossing North Minneapolis Intersection

On Monday, October 11, 2021, a 70-year-old woman using a mobility scooter was fatally struck while crossing a North Minneapolis intersection. Rosie Means was struck and killed by a white SUV while attempting to cross West Broadway Avenue at North Aldrich Avenue. She was taken to North Memorial Health Hospital where her death was confirmed. Police identified the driver as 21-year-old Cameron Bendson, who was driving with a suspended license and possibly under the influence of drugs. Bendson was charged with criminal vehicular homicide in Hennepin County District Court.

Pedestrian Struck and Killed in Lake Valley Township Semi Crash

Jesse Kapela (24) of Waite Park was struck and killed by a semi-truck in Lake Valley Township on Thursday, September 23. Shortly after 8:30 a.m., a semi-truck was trying to back onto Highway 27 from 650th Street when he struck and killed the 24-year-old pedestrian. The semi-truck driver, Nicholas Hunter (37) of Glenwood, was not injured.

Pedestrian Struck and Killed by Duluth Bus

A pedestrian was struck and killed by a Duluth Transit Authority bus on Friday, September 10. The crash happened outside of Dick’s Sporting Goods at the Miller Hill Mall around 10 a.m. Firefighters arrived to find David J. Weston (64) pinned beneath the bus. Crews used heavy-duty airbags to rescue Weston before attempting life-saving measures. The crash is under investigation.

2 Staffers Injured in Blaine School Zone Crashes

Two school staff members were struck by cars in Blaine this week, causing school leaders to call for drivers to take safety precautions. The first incident happened the morning of Wednesday, September 8, on the second day of school. A teacher supervising crossing guards was struck and injured in front of Madison Elementary. A parent driving the car that struck the staffer said she was distracted while adjusting her child’s face mask. The second crash happened on Thursday morning when a Blaine High School student who was blinded by the sunrise struck a staffer. Both school staff members were hospitalized. Officials say school zone traffic has increased with bus driver shortages and more parents driving their children to school during the pandemic.

Wabasha Teen Struck and Killed by Car While Skateboarding 

On Tuesday, August 31, 16-year-old Arianna Simon was riding her skateboard when a drunk driver struck and killed her. The accident happened at the intersection of 5th Grant Boulevard and Maiden Avenue West in Wabasha, Minn. Bernard Wayne Quist (84) admitted to drinking several alcoholic beverages before driving. He was not present when the ambulance arrived but later returned to the scene. He is being charged with criminal vehicular homicide and failure to stop for a collision involving another person. Ariana was a student at Wabasha-Kellogg Public Schools. Members of the community set up a Go Fund Me page to help support her family.

Minivan Kills Pedestrian Crossing Highway 95 in Cambridge

A 63-year-old woman was struck and killed by a motorist in Cambridge on Friday, August 19. Jennifer Ann Cottrell was crossing Highway 95 near Nixon Street when she was hit by a minivan driven by a 71-year-old. The Minnesota State Patrol says the road was wet and that alcohol was not a factor.

Pedestrian Killed by Driver in Falcon Heights

A 29-year-old woman was killed by a pick-up truck in Falcon Heights on Saturday, August 17. Abigail Anderson was walking on Cleveland Avenue near the University of Minnesota’s Elizabeth Lyle Robbie Stadium when a truck hit a parked car, which then struck Anderson. The pick-up truck driver then did a U-turn, running over Anderson while trying to flee the scene. Anderson later died at Regions Hospital. The pick-up driver has been identified and was given a toxicology test. An investigation is underway. Anderson, known as Abby to friends and family, was a nurse at Children’s Minnesota. Her older sister, Gabriele “Gabe” Grunewald died from a rare cancer in 2019.

Two Pedestrians Struck by Pick-up Truck Outside Grand Casino Mille Lacs
Two pedestrians were struck by a pick-up truck outside Grand Casino Mille Lacs in Katho Township on Friday, August 13. Joseph Nickaboine (3) and Kiala Marie Ryle (18) were in a crosswalk outside the casino on Highway 169 near Grand Avenue when a northbound pick-up truck struck them. Both were transported to North Memorial Hospital with life-threatening injuries. The 58-year-old pick-up driver was no injured. Minnesota State Patrol says alcohol was not a factor.

Car Fatally Strikes Pedestrian in Brooklyn Park Crash

A pedestrian was fatally struck by a car in a crash that happened in Brooklyn Park, Minn. on Friday, June 18. William Todd (21) died at the scene near 85th Avenue North and Stratford Lane. Police say the car’s driver remained at the scene and cooperated with the investigation.

Hit-and-Run Crash Kills North Minneapolis Man

A pedestrian died in a hit-and-run crash in north Minneapolis on Friday, May 28. Kevin Dodge-Fjelbroten (23) was walking to a friend’s house on the 2500 block of West Broadway Avenue when a car struck him and kept driving. A man who was walking with Dodge-Fjelbroten at the time says the car hit the side of the curb before two young women got out and fled the scene. When police arrived at the scene, they found a severely damaged Ford Taurus abandoned in the road. Dodge-Fjelbroten was taken to the hospital, where he later died from blunt force injuries. His mother told KSTP-News, “A parent shouldn’t be burying her child. People need to come forward and talk about this stuff.” Police say the driver appeared to be speeding at the time of the crash. A 20-year-old woman from St. Paul was arrested on Sunday on suspicion of criminal vehicular homicide.

Woman Struck and Killed by Hit-and-Run Driver While Tending Her Yard in Mounds View

A woman was struck and killed while tending her yard in Mounds View, MN by a hit-and-run driver who sped through a no passing zone on Long Lake Road. The crash happened on Tuesday, May 25 on the 8200 block of Long Lake Road. When police arrived at the scene, Mary Preciado (82) had died. A woman driving south on Long Lake Road told police she saw an SUV, driven by Donald Harris (62) of Coon Rapids, speed past her in the northbound parking lane, strike Preciado, and flee the scene.

Harris kept driving with a broken windshield until he crashed into a ditch in Spring Lake Park near County Road 10 and Cottagewood Terrace. Harris was arrested and charged in Ramsey County District Court with two counts of criminal homicide. He remains in jail ahead of a court appearance on Thursday. A preliminary breath test showed no alcohol in his system, but police found a bag of cocaine inside a pack of cigarettes in Harris’ SUV.

One Pedestrian Killed, Another Injured in Aftermath of Downtown Minneapolis Car Crash

A pedestrian died and another was critically injured in the aftermath of a car crash in downtown Minneapolis on Monday, May 24. After running a red light at the intersection of Marquette Avenue and South 10th Street, the suspect car collided with another and careened into two pedestrians standing on the corner, sending them through the window of a nearby business. Both pedestrians were taken to HCMC, where Stephan Rice (62) of Burnsville, later died. The driver of the suspect car, Thomas Hunter (26), showed signs of “possible drug or alcohol impairment” and was driving with a revoked license. His other convictions include fleeing police, assault, and driving while intoxicated, among others.

Semi-Truck Strikes and Kills Woman Crossing Plymouth Crosswalk in Wheelchair

A semi-truck struck and killed a woman who was moving through a Plymouth crosswalk in her wheelchair on Monday, April 26. Jessica Arel (39) of Loretto was crossing at the southbound I-494 off-ramp at Highway 55 when she was hit by a semi-truck driven by Kraig Schuneman (62) of Mounds View.