MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A mother of six is fighting for her life after a car hit her in a construction zone.
Laura Soto, 33, was working as a sign holder for a road crew in East Bethel when a 19-year-old woman swerved and hit her Monday.
She was critically hurt and remains hospitalized at Hennepin County Medical Center.
“Apparently [the driver] didn’t notice the flagger and just simply ran into her,” said Cmdr. Paul Sommer of the Anoka County Sheriff’s office.
Witnesses said it happened so fast that Soto had no chance to react.
The driver, Jordan Paulus of East Bethel, was going west on 237th Avenue when investigators say she swerved around traffic that was already stopped and drove onto the shoulder — where she hit Soto head-on.
“The driver made some statement to the effect that she was checking a notification in her phone,” Sommer said.
While distracted driving may be to blame, alcohol does not appear to be a factor. Soto remains unconscious and hospitalized with a number of serious injuries — including two collapsed lungs and a broken vertebrae.
But her fiancé, Ryan Berg, tells WCCO her doctors are optimistic because she does not have any brain damage.
Soto gave birth to her sixth child just last month. She and Berg are engaged to be married next spring and were going to close on a new home this month.
Berg says Soto was just doing her job when she was hit. He shared this message for all drivers: “Hang up, it’s not worth it. Everybody thinks it can’t happen to them until it does.”
He says he has received a number of phone calls of support from friends and Soto’s co-workers.
“You’ve got two families impacted in a tragedy like this,” Sommer said. “You’ve got the victim who did absolutely nothing wrong … and now you’ve got this 19-year-old driver who’s going to live with this consequence for the rest of her life.”
Investigators say Paulus could face criminal charges.