Widow wants more done to prevent work zone crashes

5:32 AM, Sep 18, 2013   |    comments
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GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - Monday was a deadly day on Minnesota roads. The Minnesota State Patrol reported that three people died in crashes across the state.

One of the fatalities happened while a driver drove in a work zone on I-694 and Shingle Creek Parkway, said investigators. There was another serious crash near a work zone Monday in western Minnesota. 

The crashes prompted officials to issue a warning to drivers on Tuesday afternoon.

"Any distraction or a driver simply not paying attention could create a very deadly situation," said Lt. Eric Roeske with the Minnesota State Patrol.

Jodi Rajkowski, of St. Joseph, knows the pain of a work zone crash.

Her husband, Ron Rajkowski and his co-worker Craig Carlson, were part of a team working on the shoulder of the I-35W in Burnsville when a driver lost control striking and killing them both almost two years ago.

"It's the worst feeling in the world getting a call like that," said Rajkowski.

And when she hears of other accidents in work zones, it brings her and her two young boys back to that day.

Ever since the accident, she and Carlson's widow have been pushing officials to lower the speed limits in work zones and increase fines for drivers who speed.

"In the last two years, nothing has been done and I don't understand why," she said.

A bill was introduced in the house addressing those issues, but Rajkowski says it's been tabled until next year.

"Look at how much can change in that split second. A blink of an eye, it's all gone," she said.

So far, there have been 258 traffic deaths in the state, according to the Minnesota Department of Public Safety. That is up from 248 at this time in 2012.

There were 26,052 traffic crashes in work zones in the last five years in Minnesota, said the DPS. Of those crashes, 41 people died and 4,017 were injured.

It is why Rajkowski is willing to share her story.

"If I reach one person, it could change someone else's life," she said.

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