MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — This year has gotten off to a dangerous start on the roads. The Department of Public Safety says as of Friday, preliminary numbers show 36 people have died on Minnesota roadways in 2016.

Last year, at this time, there had been 25 deaths. WCCO talked with someone Sunday who you might not realize is deeply shaken by those deadly car accidents.

That’s Ron Gardas in the blue, who works for Twin Cities Transport & Recovery. For 14 years, he’s been answering tow calls.

“We try to make a bad day better is the best way we can put it,” Gardas said.

But sometimes he rolls up on the worst thing that could ever happen.

“We need to find the commanding officer, the fire department, whoever’s in charge to make sure that we’re OK to proceed,” Gardas said.

Gardas says he is trained to handle the heavy situations and act professionally.

“Once you’re done doing your job and start to think about what happens after the fact, that’s when you start thinking about that it was a family or somebody was going home, or that they might have children,” Gardas said.

That happened several times in January. As many as 25 people lost their lives last month alone.

In 2015, nine people died in accidents in January.

One of the recent victims was Tyler Lenort, an equipment operator who was struck while on the job.  A job his coworkers say he took great pride in. Two teens also lost their lives on the roads in January, They were driving in the Bemidji area.

“I would say the most important thing for the motoring public is to slow down and move over, especially for first responders,” Gardas said.

Words troopers fully support, saying a seatbelt and an attentive eye are the best protection against the worst of scenarios.

Gardas says what he is seeing so often lately is people slowing down to take photos on crash scenes, which as you can imagine causes other crashes. He says if he has any message, it’s to stay focused for the protection of other drivers, officers and tow truck drivers.

Susan-Elizabeth Littlefield

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