A 23-year-old Missouri man pleaded guilty Jan. 23 to misdemeanor careless driving in connection with an Oct. 13, 2011, crash on I-35W in Burnsville that killed two electricians who were working at a construction site along the roadway.
Kirk Edward Deamos of Raymore, Mo., was sentenced to 30 days in jail, 200 hours of community service work and a fine of $100.
Craig Carlson, 47, of Ramsey, and Ronald Rajkowski, 44, of St. Joseph, died as a result of the crash.
According to Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom, under current Minnesota law felony charges were not possible in this case because no alcohol or drugs were involved, gross negligence could not be proved and Deamos did not flee the scene of the crash.
Deamos lost control of his 1998 Mitsubishi 3000 GT at approximately 12:33 p.m. Oct. 13 just south of the McAndrews Road overpass. It careened into the ditch, killing the electricians who were working for Egan Co., a subcontractor on a project to extend the MnPASS toll lane system through Burnsville.
Backstrom said in a press release that he has been attempting to increase the penalty for careless (negligent) driving resulting in death to a gross misdemeanor since 2007.
“This is another tragic example of the need to have a law in place that deals with taking negligent risks while driving that reflect it is more serious to hit and kill a human being than it is to damage a mailbox,” Backstrom said.
Backstrom, who extended his deepest sympathy to the families of Carlson and Rajkowski for their great loss, said he is pursuing adoption of such a law once again this year at the Minnesota Legislature.
Deamos had left his home in Missouri at 4 a.m. Oct. 13 to visit his girlfriend in Collegeville.
After being ticketed for speeding that morning in Iowa, Deamos said he used cruise control to stay within the speed limit, according to the criminal complaint.
Approaching the area where his vehicle left the road, Deamos slowed from 70 mph to 60 because of cement barriers in place. The speed limit remained 70 in the area, which wasn’t a designated construction zone, according to the State Patrol.
Deamos told the patrol that he wanted to disengage his cruise control while driving through the area and briefly looked down at his steering wheel to press the correct button.
When he looked up, he thought he was too close to the temporary concrete barrier and steered right, braking at the same time, the complaint said.
The car turned farther right than he expected, so Deamos steered back to the left, “then back to the right again, all the while applying the brakes,” the complaint said.
The car struck a pole and then continued to slide, striking the electricians.
Traffic cameras showed that Deamos was traveling at the speed of surrounding traffic and a witness said his car didn’t appear to be speeding, the complaint said.