Authorities, Experts Say Construction Worker's Death in Fatal Crash 'Preventable'

October 03, 2018 07:06 PM

Investigators say charges are likely in Tuesday's deadly crash along I-94 and County Road 81 in Rogers.

A semi rear-ended a truck pulling a trailer, causing that truck and trailer to spin into a work zone and killing 59-year-old construction worker Vern Hedquist.


Another construction worker was also hit.

RELATED: 1 Construction Worker Killed in Crash on I-94 in Rogers

On Wednesday, the state patrol and others stressed the crash was preventable.

Authorities believe a Ford F-150 was traveling eastbound on I-94, slowed down for traffic, but was rear-ended by the other driver, and the crash eventually spilled into the construction zone.

The state patrol is looking into whether or not distraction played a role in the crash, but said medical factors are not a cause.

"I've seen so many close calls, I can't even count them," said Brandon Price, an construction site inspector who lives in Rogers. 

Price uses toy models to train his employees about the dangers of working alongside traffic.

"I need to get it across to my workers that when they're out in the field, anything can go wrong," Price said. 

Price saw the aftermath of the crash Tuesday afternoon

"We were heading home and we could see something had just happened," Price said. 

According to the state patrol, a private contracting company - WSB & Associates - had employees doing work on the side of the highway.

Hedquist, a Pillager resident, was one of the WSB employees. He died at the scene. The other worker was injured.

"Obviously this was a really traumatic event for all the workers out there," said Lt. Tiffani Nielson of the state patrol. 

So far this year, there have been 13 work zone-related crashes in Minnesota, the most since 2010.

"We're basically driving through their office every day and we need to drive in an attentive manner," Nielson said. 

"Something's gotta be done," Price added. 

He takes it upon himself to protect his workers, and wants drivers to face real consequences. 

"Hit people where it hurts," he said. "Hit them in their wallets. You do something stupid because you're not paying attention it should cost you." 

WSB & Associates released a statement on the incident:

"WSB is mourning the loss of one of our staff. Vern Hedquist was struck and killed on Interstate 94 while performing geotechnical work for a future MnDOT project," it read. "Vern will be greatly missed by our staff.  He was always willing to lend a helping hand and truly cared about the people he worked with. We grieve with his family and have offered our support during this devastating loss.  
"WSB staffer Tom Wood was also injured in the accident. We are grateful that he is recovering well. Four other members of our team were on site and thankfully, were not hurt.  We are working to support them during this challenging time.
"We remain in close communication with the Minnesota State Patrol, MnDOT, and all authorities who are investigating this tragic accident."

A GoFundMe page has been created for Hedquist's family.



Brett Hoffland

Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company


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