'Paying in blood': Third Hwy. 12 crash death since October renews call for rumble strips

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Another life has been lost on a dangerous stretch of Hwy. 12. It’s the third death there since October.

West Hennepin Public Safety says Friday’s crash in Montrose happened only about 100 feet from the stoplight. Although the exact cause is unknown, the roads were wet at the time.

Just like the last two deadly crashes, this one was also a crossover that involved a semi.  

A traffic cone, glass on the shoulder and tire tracks in the mud remain at the scene as stark reminders of where the life of 21-year-old Devin Daniel Fortune, of Buffalo, was claimed Friday.

“It’s close to where my kids drive every day,” said West Hennepin Chief Gary Kroells.

Fortune was traveling east on the wet Hwy. 12 roadway when he lost control, crossed the center median and collided with a semi heading west.

“The rural, two-lane highway of Hwy. 12 leaves little room for error and when you stretch over the centerline, that can have catastrophic consequences,” Kroells said.

The circumstances are all too similar to the crossover crashes that killed 52-year-old Tamera Frieborg in October and 18-year-old Marleena Dieterich in February.

Both were also killed on Hwy. 12, but in Independence only 10 miles from Montrose and along areas where MnDOT resurfaced the centerline rumble strips in the fall.

“It somewhat covered up the rumble strips when we laid that down,” said Dave Aeikens, the MnDOT Public Affairs Coordinator.

This is even though rumble strips reduce 44 percent of fatal and injury crossover crashes on rural, two-lane roads, according to MnDOT statistics.

“You can tap dance around it all you want, but admit this was a mistake and do something to fix it and do it right now,” said Thomas Dieterich, who lost his daughter in a Hwy. 12 crash. “This is all I’ve been asking for. And why do we keep paying in blood to make this happen?”

MnDOT’s policy requires rumble strips be placed on all rural, undivided roadways with posted speeds of 55 miles per hour or higher, but where Fortune lost his life there are no centerline rumble strips in that area and there never have been.

The Wright County Sheriff’s Office and MnDOT did not respond to FOX 9’s request for comment. Meanwhile, the State Patrol declined to comment because, “The investigation is still open.”