Wife of construction worker killed on 35W: 'He was a very good husband and very good father'

10:50 AM, Oct 14, 2011   |    comments
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BURNSVILLE, Minn. -- Officials continue to investigate a crash that killed two construction workers on Interstate 35W near McAndrews Road Thursday, while relatives say they're "processing" what happened.

"He was a very good husband and very good father.  A very hard worker and a very giving person," said Jody Rajkowski about her husband, Ronald.

Ronald Rajkowski, 44, of St. Joseph and Craig Carlson, 47, or Ramsey, were killed when a car crashed into them around 12:30 Thursday afternoon.  Carlson died at the scene, while Rajkowski was transferred to Hennepin County Medical Center, where he also later died.

The two men worked for Egan Company, based in Brooklyn Park.  They were doing electrical work as part of the MnPASS project in the area. 

According to the latest report from the Minnesota State Patrol, the driver involved in the crash slowed for "upcoming construction," when he "felt he was too close to the construction wall."  The report states the driver braked and steered right, and then when the car turned harder than he expected, the driver turned left and then right again.  The vehicle -- a Mitsubishi 3000GT -- spun out into the ditch where it struck the two men.

Authorities say the men were thrown as much as 50 feet.

"It tears your heart out to show up at a scene like this and see someone who lost their life because of some simple mistake that a driver made," said Lt. Eric Roeske of the Minnesota State Patrol.

The State Patrol has identified the driver as 21-year-old Kirk Deamos of Raymore, MO -- a suburb of Kansas City.  KARE 11 did locate a Facebook page for a Kirk Deamos of Kansas City -- although we have not been able to confirm that this is the same Kirk Deamos involved in the Thursday crash.  However, information on the Facebook page indicates he was heading to Minnesota and had recently purchased a new car. 

One of the recent posts states: "Today is a good day.  I am now the proud owner of a red 3000gt that is basically faster than a rocket... Ready to really test it out on the highway to Minnesota Thursday!!!  So pumped."

Investigators say Deamos is fully cooperating with the investigation into what happened.  A third worker -- who was not hit but witnessed the crash -- is also helping with the investigation.

The Minnesota Department of Transportation says this latest accident is a tragic reminder of why people need to slow down and drive safely in construction zones.  In 2009, there were 13 fatal crashes in construction zones.  In 2010, there were 11.  So far this year -- and including Thursday's crash -- there have been six fatalities in work zones.

"Drivers are a big part of the solution.  They've got to pay attention in work zones," said Kevin Gutknecht of MnDOT.

Jody Rajkowski said her husband and Carlson "couldn't have done anything more right," by wearing their hard hats and vests and staying well off the road.  Ronald is survived by Jody and their two sons, ages 5 and 8, as well as other family.

(Copyright 2011 by KARE. All Rights Reserved.)

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