INDEPENDENCE, Minn. (WCCO) — A two-vehicle crash on one of the deadliest stretches of highway in Minnesota has claimed another life.

A 27-year-old woman died Monday morning after her car crossed the center line on Highway 12 and collided with another car, authorities say.

The crash happened near the County Road 92 intersection in Independence. The vehicles collided at a driveway on the highway’s 78000 block.

Investigators say a Ford Fusion was heading west on the highway when icy roads took control.

“That vehicle crossed over the center line and began skidding sideways… into the east bound lane of traffic,” said Gary Kroells, the director of the West Hennepin Public Safety Department.

A Cadillac DeVille was heading east when the sliding Fusion moved directly in its path. The Cadillac T-boned the Fusion, killing its driver.

“This not a road design crash,” Kroells added. “This isn’t an intersection crash, it’s a weather-related crash.”

Still, this doesn’t mean he thinks the highway is issue-free.

Kroells says he’s spent years fighting to improve the stretch of Highway 12 that has been the backdrop of numerous fatalities.

As part of the Highway 12 Safety Coalition, Kroells is dedicated to making improvements.

“We had center line rumble sticks installed from County Road 6 and Highway 12 all the way to the Delano border,” he said.

The group 12 for 12 has also added lighting to all major intersections and left hand turn lanes to prevent crashes.

Some who travel Highway 12 say they try to avoid it when they can.

“Especially if it’s inclement weather,” said Pat Deeg of Minnetonka. “I do try and avoid Highway 12 just because of the danger involved if we are traveling with little kids, me and my wife.”

Kroells says the Highway 12 Safety Coalition plans to spend lots of time at the State Capitol during the next session, pushing for funding for improvements.

He says officers will continue to educate drivers about distractions and speed, the most common causes of accidents along Highway 12.

Reg Chapman

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