Traffic fatalities declined in 2010

Published 3:56 pm Saturday, January 1, 2011

Traffic and recreational vehicle fatalities within Freeborn County during 2010 declined for the second year in a row but were overall just above average for the past six years, according to Tribune records.

Reports indicate there were at least eight fatalities, including one from a snowmobile crash, one from an ATV crash and six from automobile crashes.

Two of the automobile crashes were within the city limits, two were on an interstate and the remainder were on other county or state highways that pass through Freeborn County.

In 2009, there were 10 fatalities; in 2008 there were 14; in 2007 there were four; in 2006 there were six; and in 2005 there were four, according to Freeborn County records.

Those who died in 2010 ranged in age from 18 to 85 and were from both inside and outside Freeborn County.

The following is a brief synopsis of each:

• Feb. 8: Thirty-three-year-old Cory Jo Allhiser of Austin died as a result of injuries sustained when his snowmobile went into a drainage ditch near Manchester the day before.

According to Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office reports, there were three snowmobilers traveling together eastbound on the county’s trail system in Section 14 of Manchester Township. Two of the snowmobiles became separated from one sled, turned around and backtracked to find Allhiser and his snowmobile in the ditch.

• March 15: Edward Swope, 68, of Boone, Iowa, was killed after the van he was riding in was struck by a 2007 Freightliner semi on Interstate 35 north of Exit 11.

According to Minnesota State Patrol reports, the van, driven by Howard Williams, 72, also of Boone, attempted to make a U-turn at a crossover from the right-hand lane when it was hit. Both vehicles were traveling northbound.

The semi went into the median after it apparently struck the van on the driver’s side.

Williams, along with passengers Gordon Peterson and Keith Williams, received non-life threatening injuries.

Passenger Raymond Moorman and the driver of the semi, Lloyd Bakke, of Alma, Wis., received no apparent injury.

• April 29: Thomas Eugene Shadle, 52, of Clinton, Iowa, died after he was reportedly hit by a truck April 27 one mile north of the Minnesota-Iowa border on Interstate 35.

The Minnesota State Patrol listed the crash type as “pedestrian.”

Reports stated after Shadle was hit he was lying in a lane of traffic, and authorities had to divert traffic to the right lane only.

Fifty-seven-year-old Robert Schmitz of Swaledale, Iowa, was the driver of the 1984 Kenworth Construction truck involved with the crash.

• May 22: Thirty-five-year-old Ryan Orlando Bakken, of Albert Lea, died after his motorcycle went off the road west of Freeborn near the intersection of County Road 6 and County Road 29.

Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office reports state it appeared Bakken was westbound on County Road 29 when he missed the curve near County Road 6 and went into the ditch, striking bushes and trees.

• May 26: Albert Lean Majorie Oline Hoium, 85, died after she was injured in a crash earlier that day at the intersection of West Clark Street and South Washington Avenue in Albert Lea.

According to police, Hoium was driving northbound on Washington Avenue when she failed to yield to driver Kristin Ann Larson who was going eastbound on Clark Street. At the intersection there are stop signs on Washington Avenue but no stop signs on Clark Street.

Hoium reported no injuries at the crash scene but was transported to Albert Lea Medical Center as a precautionary measure after the encouragement of officers.

She was later transferred to St. Marys Hospital in Rochester, where she died from internal injuries.

• July 4: Eighteen-year-old Dennis McDermott died after an ATV crash northeast of Albert Lea.

According to Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office reports, authorities were called to the crash scene, at 76032 245th St., just after 6 p.m., where they found McDermott in critical condition lying beside the ATV. Also injured was a 5-year-old.

• Sept. 10: Roland Petersen, 82, of Albert Lea died from injuries he sustained after being struck by a car at the pedestrian crossing in front of Lou Rich on Front Street in Albert Lea.

According to police, Petersen was traveling north across the street in a motorized wheelchair at the crossing when 91-year-old Charlotte Sevaldson was driving eastbound in a 1998 Buick Park Avenue and struck the man. She reportedly did not see Petersen.

• Nov. 27: Twenty-three-year-old Jerri R. Mondeel, of Hollandale, died after her vehicle rolled over on State Highway 251 two miles east of Clarks Grove.

According to the Minnesota State Patrol, Mondeel was driving a 1998 Chevy Cavalier eastbound on Highway 251, when she reportedly ran off the road to the right, overcorrected and went into the north ditch and rolled.

The Freeborn County Toward Zero Deaths Committee will review each of the crashes and discuss if there was a common trend in each or if there’s anything that can be done to educate the public on safety.

The committee is made up of county engineering, Albert Lea city engineering, the Albert Lea Police Department, the Freeborn County Sheriff’s Office, the Minnesota State Patrol, the Minnesota Department of Transportation, Albert Lea Medical Center emergency crews, Freeborn County Public Health and the area schools.

Severtson said some factors the committee looks at are whether speed was a factor, if the person killed was wearing his or her seat belt and if there was anything with the roads that could have been changed.

“We still see no seat belts and speeding probably as our highest causes of death in car crashes,” she said.

She noted that she thinks the county’s fatalities are continuing to decline because of some of the new laws in place, including the primary seat belt law, which requires all people in a vehicle to be properly belted. Extra driving while intoxicated enforcement also educates the public.

Severtson encouraged people to buckle their seat belts and to slow down. People should also not text or answer calls if at all possible.

“I just hope the numbers keep going down,” she said.