Minnesotans rally at Capitol to advocate for road safety, tougher traffic laws

Family and friends lighted 349 candles along the Minnesota State Capitol steps representing the 349 people who have lost their lives on Minnesota roads due to negligence of the driver this year.

The group also spread our 40 shoes representing the number of people projected to die on Minnesota roads before the end of the year for the same reason.

Sarah Risser told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS her son, 18-year-old Henry Zietlow, died in 2019 when a driver who was carrying and towing a difficult load along a Wisconsin highway lost control of the vehicle and slammed head-on into Zietlow’s vehicle, killing the young man.

“My son’s death was avoidable as so many deaths on the road and we’re here to bring that message to people,” Risser said. “And we still think there is more that can be done at the state Capitol because things like ‘hands-free’ texting in cars is great, but why not, in my opinion, say no cell phone usage at all in a car?”

Dorian Grilley, executive director of Bicycle Alliance of Minnesota, told KSTP he thinks there have to be stricter penalties for those who injure or kill someone through their negligence behind the wheel.

“I was nearly killed a few years ago while riding my bike when a driver hit me and put me in the hospital for three weeks,” Grilley said. “Yet the driver was only fined $500 for his infractions, and that was it, while it cost $350,000 to screw me back together."