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Deadly holiday weekend on area roadways: Fifty Lakes man among statewide fatalities

One fatality and numerous injuries were the result of several vehicle crashes over the long Memorial Day weekend in the Brainerd lakes area.

Of the crashes—reported in Crow Wing, Cass, Morrison and Mille Lacs counties—three involved motorcycles, with one claiming the life of a 63-year-old Fifty Lakes man. In addition, six deaths occurred in six separate crashes in the state, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety.

The six deaths include:

• A 27-year-old man whose vehicle went into another lane of traffic in Scott County, sideswiped one vehicle before hitting another vehicle head on.

• A 19-year-old female passenger died in a Dakota County crash, with speed and distraction suspected.

• A 45-year-old man who crashed his all-terrain vehicle in Red Lake.

• A 21-year-old man on a motorcycle fleeing from police in Mower County.

• A 69-year-old woman on a motorcycle going too fast for the conditions in Anoka County.

• A 23-year-old man who crashed his motorcycle in Dakota County.

Higher traffic volumes in the lakes area typically begin Memorial Day weekend and continue throughout the summer.

"Summer traffic is here," Capt. Scott Goddard of the Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office said. "Depending on how warm the weather is, this area is a draw and motorists have to pack their patience. We had three crashes involving motorcycles and people have to remember there are a lot of motorcycles out, a lot of pedestrians and bicyclists, and we need to focus on road.

"We can't have any impaired driving and we can't be distracted when driving on our roads. We always get a lot of calls during fishing opener, and big holidays—Memorial Day weekend and the Fourth of July. In the summertime in the lakes area, every weekend, especially if it is nice out, we will have an overflowing of people coming here to visit and we have to concentrate when driving."

The local fatality was reported toward the end of the weekend. The sheriff's office was called about 6:11 p.m. Monday, May 28, to Crow Wing County Highway 1 near Buchite Road, west of Emily. Emergency personnel responded to a report of a crash involving a GMC Yukon and a motorcycle. The operator of the motorcycle, a 63-year-old Fifty Lakes man, was pronounced dead at the scene. The name of the man is being withheld pending notification of family.

A passenger on the motorcycle, a 26-year-old Isanti woman, was flown by air ambulance to St. Luke's Hospital in Duluth. The driver of the GMC, Thomas Banttari, 59, Columbus, was not injured.

Reports indicate the motorcycle was traveling west on County Highway 1 when it drove into the eastbound lane and was struck by the vehicle driving east on County Highway 1.

The sheriff's office was assisted by the Emily Police Department, Emily First Responders, Emily Fire Department, Cuyuna Regional Medical Center Ambulance, North Memorial Air Care and the Minnesota State Patrol.

The Minnesota State Patrol responded to 228 property damage crashes, 37 personal injury crashes and five serious injury crashes across the state, with several of those occurring in the lakes area.

Highway 169 crash injures 2

ONAMIA—Two people in a Kia Rio were injured in a two-vehicle crash at 4:21 p.m. Friday, May 25, on Highway 169 north of Onamia.

The Minnesota State Patrol reported the Kia was heading south on Highway 169 near Shakopee Lake Road when it crossed the center line and collided with a Ford Escape traveling north on the highway in Kathio Township. The driver of the Kia, Clinton E. Smith, 21, and his passenger, David A. Bonilla, 24, both of Isle, suffered non-life-threatening injuries and were transported to the Onamia hospital. The state patrol said the driver and passenger were not wearing their seat belts.

The driver of the Escape, Grant L. Vann, 31, Minneapolis, was not injured.

The Mille Lacs County Sheriff's Office and the Onamia Police Department assisted the state patrol at the scene.

Driver hurt in motorcycle crash

NISSWA—A 61-year-old Breezy Point man was injured when the motorcycle he was operating struck an approach on Crow Wing County Highway 4.

The crash occurred at 11:12 a.m. Saturday, May 26 near Hudson Street in Lake Edward Township near Nisswa.

The Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office reported a witness stated Michael W. Moreland was traveling south on County Highway 4, when the motorcycle he was operating drove off the west side of the road and struck an approach. Moreland was transported by ambulance to Essentia Hospital-St. Joseph's Medical Center in Brainerd for treatment of his injuries.

The sheriff's office was assisted on scene by the Nisswa and Breezy Point police departments, North Memorial Ambulance and the Nisswa Fire Department.

Crash injures 2 passengers in Cass Lake

CASS LAKE—Two elderly passengers were injured in a two-vehicle crash on Highway 2 west of Cass Lake.

The crash occurred at 1:28 p.m. Saturday, May 26, on Highway 2 at 65th Avenue Northwest.

The Minnesota State Patrol reported a Ford Edge was heading south on 65th Avenue and a Honda CRV was westbound on Highway 2 when the two vehicles collided in the intersection. The drivers, Merri E. Barrett, 60, Bemidji, in the Honda and Brenna N. Payne, 34, Grand Forks, ND, in the Edge, were wearing their seat belts and were not injured.

Barrett's passengers—Archie C. Barrett, 89, and Joyce M. Barrett, 87, both of Bemidji—also were wearing their seat belts, had non-life-threatening injuries and were transported to Sanford Health in Bemidji. Barrett's third passenger, Sage A. Barrett, 9, Bemidji, who was not injured.

ATV driver hospitalized after crash

RANDALL—A 52-year-old woman was injured when two ATVs collided at 9:23 p.m. Saturday, May 26.

The crash occurred at the intersection of 230th Street and 50th Avenue, 2 miles west of Randall in Parker Township.

The Morrison County Sheriff's Office reported a group of ATVs were traveling east on 230th Street. Tammy Woidyla, 52, of Bowlus, was driving a 2005 Honda Rancher ATV and swerved to miss another ATV driven by Jayna Reed, 55, of Pillager. Woidyla's ATV clipped Reed's 2008 Honda Rincon ATV and then rolled. Woidyla was transported to St. Gabriel's Hospital in Little Falls with a head injury. No one else was injured in the crash.

The sheriff's office was assisted at the scene by the Minnesota State Patrol, Randall Fire and Rescue, Life Link III and Gold Cross Ambulance.

Equipment malfunction leads to crash

PILLAGER—A 35-year-old Pillager man was injured when the Dodge Ram he was driving crashed at 9:42 p.m. Sunday, May 27.

The crash occurred on Highway 210, west of 25th Avenue Southwest in Sylvan Township, east of Pillager in Cass County.

The Minnesota State Patrol reported Fred S. Foulkes was driving west on Highway 210, when the Dodge braked hard only on the right side due to an equipment issue. The Dodge went into the ditch and struck a tree. Foulkes was transported to Essentia Health-St. Joseph's Medical Center in Brainerd for non-life-threatening injuries.

Man injured in motorcycle crash

BREEZY POINT—A 27-year-old Pequot Lakes man was injured in a motorcycle crash at 5:49 p.m. Monday, May 28, on the 34000 block of Crow Wing County Highway 39 in Ideal Township north of Breezy Point.

The Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office reported Daniel Schmidt was injured and transported by ambulance to Essentia Hospital-St. Joseph's Medical Center in Brainerd. According to a witness, Schmidt accelerated, causing the front tire to come off the ground and then

crashed.

Minnesota stats

• Preliminary numbers from the DPS show 118 people have lost their lives in traffic crashes on Minnesota roads so far in 2018. That's compared with 115 this time last year.

• Preliminary numbers show law enforcement arrested 374 people for driving while intoxicated over the holiday weekend—from 6 p.m. Friday, May 25 to 4 a.m. Tuesday, May 29.

• Preliminary numbers show there have been 2,078 DWI arrests in 2018.

• The Click It or Ticket Extra Enforcement is still in effect and runs through June 3. More than 300 law enforcement agencies around the state are participating in the Click It or Ticket enforcement campaign. Buckling up and having your passengers properly secured in the vehicle is the first line of defense in a crash, DPS reported. Preliminary numbers show 73 unbelted motorists lost their lives on Minnesota roads in 2017.

• Memorial Day through Labor Day marks the 100 deadliest days on Minnesota roads. Preliminary numbers show the 100-day stretch last year accounted for 121 fatalities, making up 34 percent of all the traffic deaths in 2017.

Motorcycle safety

• Watch for motorcycles. Due to their smaller sizes, speed and distance are more difficult to judge.

• Always look twice before entering a roadway or changing lanes to make sure a motorcycle isn't in the blind spot.

• Give riders room to ride by maintaining a three-second following distance. Give a motorcycle as much space as another car or truck.

Safety messages for motorcycle riders

• Wear all the gear, all the time.

• Brightly-colored protective gear, including a Minnesota Department of Transportation-approved helmet, helps make a rider visible to other drivers and protects them in case of a crash.

• Riding gloves, a jacket, pants, boots, helmet and eye protection are all that stand between the rider and the pavement in a crash. Making the decision to wear all the gear can save lives.

• Never drink and ride.

• Be prepared for inattentive drivers by staying focused on riding and keeping speed in check.

• Take a training course.

Speak up and save lives

• If a person is with a driver who is distracted, speak up, tell them to put the phone down and offer to be their designated texter.

• Refuse to drive until every passenger is buckled up.

• Slow down—trying to save a few minutes off your drive isn't worth causing a crash.

• Plan ahead before a person goes out by designating a sober driver, and if a person sees another who has had too much to drink, speak up and find them a safe ride home.