Reporting Rachel Slavik
MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The wives of two construction killed on Interstate 35W thought they’d get closure Wednesday. Instead, they learned the man accused of crashing into their husbands wants to go to trial.
Craig Carlson and Ron Rajkowski were doing electrical work near 35W last October, when an out of control vehicle hit them. The driver, Kirk Deamos, made his first court appearance, Wednesday, in Dakota County.
When Deb Carlson and Jodi Rajkowski walked into court, they thought they would leave with the past behind them.
“Just wanted it to be done, wanted closure to it,” said Jodi Rajkowski, whose husband, Ron, was killed in the crash.
Instead of moving on from a crash that killed their husbands, their pain will now be prolonged.
“It’s going to take that much longer for court to be over,” said Deb Carlson.
Deamos, the man accused of careless driving, is fighting the misdemeanor charge.
“I thought it was more of a cut and dry situation, very surprised,” said Rajkowski.
It was in October of last year, when Deamos would forever change the two families.
While driving north on 35W he told investigators he lost control of his vehicle and hit the two men as they worked nearby.
Their wives have spent the last nine months adjusting to a new normal for their children.
“Just trying to take over both parent roles,” Rajkowski said.
“My husband, Craig, was extremely busy and didn’t sit well. I have big shoes, in that respect, to fill,” Carlson said.
Wednesday was, admittedly, an emotional setback.
“You try to put it behind you and it kind of resurfaces,” Carlson said.
“For me, I’m reliving everything over,” Rajkowski said.
But they say it also strengthened their determination for change as they push for new laws to protect construction workers.
Both families want better signage and slower speeds near construction zones.
“We can’t do much for Ron and Craig, but we really are trying to concentrate on getting these laws changed so it doesn’t happen to other family members,” Rajkowski said.
Deamos will be back in court in September. The judge told him not to have any contact with the victims’ families.
Deamos asked permission to a letter expressing his sorrow and condolences. He was granted that request.