By John Lauritsen

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – One man is dead and another is hospitalized after a head-on crash in Maple Plain.

According to the West Hennepin Public Safety, officers were called to a personal injury crash at 4:22 p.m. Tuesday.

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Upon arrival police found that two pickup trucks had collided head-on at Spring Avenue on Highway 12.

Preliminary investigation showed that 55-year-old Kevin Orr, of Richfield, was traveling eastbound on Highway 12 when he crossed over the center line and struck 29-year-old James Mika, of Maple Plain, who was traveling westbound.

It’s the second fatal crash on that stretch of road in a week, and the third since April.

“This is a tragic event and unfortunately it’s happening more and more, and more frequently,” Chief Gary Kroells, of West Hennepin Public Safety, said.

The sheer impact of Tuesday’s crash claimed Orr’s life and hospitalized Mika.

Exactly one week ago, a 24-year-old woman died in a crash just east of Maple Plain.

And in April, two people were killed along the same stretch of road.

All three crashes happened within two miles of each other.

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And that’s not all they have in common.

“It does appear that one of the vehicles went over the center line and struck the other one,” Kroells said.

The run of head-on collisions has caused local law enforcement to form the “Highway 12 Safety Coalition.”

They’re hoping to install better lighting along the highway from Wayzata to Montrose.

Kroells is also pushing for “rumble strips” to be added to the center line.

“We currently don’t have that in this jurisdiction. Everyone has been very supportive about working toward that,” Kroells said. “We are optimistic we can get that done to prevent some of this.”

And they hope to move quickly, before more lives are lost.

“We are out there trying to make everyone safe on the road. Pay attention to what you are doing and get where you are going, so everyone can return home to their families,” Kroells said.

Orr was pronounced dead at the scene. Mika was taken to North Memorial Hospital to be treated for several injuries, but none are considered life-threatening.

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The safety coalition will have a meeting on Thursday at 2 p.m. at the Delano City Hall to discuss possible changes to that stretch of road.

John Lauritsen