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Driver, 2 Victims Identified In Fatal I-35W Crash

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BURNSVILLE, Minn.(WCCO) — Two construction workers were hit and killed in a crash that occurred around 12:33 p.m. Thursday on Interstate 35W and County Road 42 in Burnsville.

Lt. Eric Roeske, of the State Patrol, said 21-year-old driver Kirk Deamos from Raymore, Mo., went into the construction area at I-35W and McAndrews Road, seriously hurting one worker and killing another. Deamos was not injured in the crash.

The second worker was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center, where he died just a couple hours later.

The victims have been identified as 47-year-old Craig Carlson, of Ramsey, Minn.and 44-year-old Ronald Rajkowski of St. Joseph, Minn.

“Our troopers see this every day. It’s sad. It tears your heart out to show up at a scene and see someone who lost their life because of some simple mistake a driver made,” said Lt. Eric Roeske with the Minnesota State Patrol.

According to the incident report, Deamos was traveling in the northbound left lane of 35W and slowed down for the upcoming construction area. He told police he felt he was too close to the construction wall, braked and turned right. The vehicle then turned harder than expected and so he turned left to compensate.

Deamos told police he then turned right again and spun out in the right ditch, striking two construction workers, according to the report.

A Facebook page for a Kirk Deamos from Kansas City, Missouri has a status update from Tuesday which states, “Today is a good day! I am now the proud owner of a red 3000gt that is basically faster than than a rocket … Ready to really test it out on the highway to Minnesota Thursday!!! So pumped!”

A second status update reads, “Don’t worry, my motto is safety first!!! Hahaha, oh wait, no it’s not … It’s, live fast, and try not to hit many light poles!”

Roeske said after talking to witnesses at the crash site, it doesn’t look like excessive speed was a factor.

Both men killed in the crash worked at Egan Co., an electrical and mechanical contractor in Minnesota. They were on site working on the MN Pass project, which is being installed in the area and should be done by next spring.

“These workers were working on the electrical and fiber-optic stuff for that to make this a better, faster, safer roadway,” said Kevin Gutknecht, MnDOT spokesman.

A statement from the company said, “We are deeply saddened to report that two employees of Egan Company were killed in a traffic accident at a job site along 35W and County Road 42 in Burnsville today. Our thoughts are with their families during this difficult time.”

“Every day people like you and me are working in work zones. They have a right to go home to their families safe and sound,” Gutknecht said.  He added that from 2008 to 2010, there were more than 6,600 work-zone crashes throughout Minnesota —  27 people died and 2400 people were injured.

“Folks need to pay attention in work zones.  It’s just critical,” he said.

The right lane on I-35W was blocked for several hours Thursday as crews worked to investigate the crash. The highway was reopened at about 3:45 p.m.

A third worker was on scene at the time of the accident and is being cooperative with authorities.  He witnessed the crash and his colleagues getting hit.  The driver is also working with police. He was the only occupant of the vehicle.

“It tears your heart out to show up at a scene like this and to see someone who lost their life because of some simple mistake a driver made,” Roeske said. “But it’s like that every time we go to a crash.”

Lt. Roeske said that Deamos was tested for drugs and alcohol and none were found in his system.  Investigators questioned Deamos after the crash but did not arrest him. They’ll be reconstructing the crash as they try to figure out how fast he was going and why he lost control before finishing their investigation.  They’ll forward their findings to the Dakota County Attorney, who will decide if Deamos should be charged criminally.

Deamos’s grandmother told WCCO-TV that she talked with him after the crash, but she didn’t want to say anything else.

Carlson’s family and friends said his widow is heartbroken, and they urge everyone to slow down in construction zones.

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