DELANO, Minn. (KMSP) - Another death occurred on one of the deadliest stretches of road in Minnesota in a head-on crash along Highway 12 just west of Delano on Wednesday night, about a month after an initiative was announced challenging motorists to go 12 months without any fatalities.
Around 10:47 p.m., a 2003 Ford Pickup, driven by Michael P. Steer, 24, of Waverly, was heading east on Highway 12 crossed through the center turn lane at Babcock Avenue, then crossed over to the westbound lane before striking a 2001 Chevrolet Lumina head-on. The Lumina spun around and struck a 2002 Ford Escort. Minnesota State Patrol officials said there was alcohol detected on Steer. Court records show he was convicted of misdemeanor DWI in 2012.
Steer suffered non-life-threatening injuries. The driver of the Lumina, Dustin J. Helget, 30, of Cokato, was seriously injured and passenger Mayla A. Macon, 40, of Cokato, was killed. She was wearing a seatbelt and the airbag did deploy. The driver of the Escort, Carol M. Jahnke, 65, suffered non-life-threatening injuries.
Effort to reduce deaths
The Minnesota Department of Public Safety said in December, the Highway 12 Safety Coalition announced efforts to reduce fatalities and serious injuries on the highway by challenging motorists to go 12 months without a fatal crash.
A deadly history
A dangerous 6-mile stretch of the highway between Orono and Delano was equipped with rumble strips in December 2014 to reduce crossover crashes the same week two people were killed. There are no rumble strips installed at the crash site, which was just west of Delano city limits.
This August, two crashes claimed three lives in just three days, and many in the west metro continue to demand change along the stretch. Chelsea Langhans, 25, was killed in a head-on crash on Highway 12 in Orono on Saturday, Aug. 22. An SUV driven by 69-year-old Arthur Henningsen of Wayzata crossed the center median of the two-lane highway and the two vehicles collided. Henningsen was also killed in the crash.
Highway 12 crash statistics
Minnesota Department of Transportation crash data for Highway 12 County Road 6 to the Hennepin-Wright county line. Information is for 2010-2014:
Total crashes: 229
Injury crashes: 72
Fatal crashes: 4
Serious injury crashes: 4
Non-serious injury crashes: 64
Property damage only crashes: 157