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Deadly holiday adds to fatal crashes spike; local officials respond to 2 fatal events Thursday

The holiday deaths come as the state experiences a dramatic uptick in traffic fatalities during 2021 along with driving while intoxicated offenses, patrols for which are currently increased during the busier holiday travel and celebration season.

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Photo illustration by Metro Newspaper Service

Local public safety officials responded to two incidents involving the fatalities of three young people within 2 miles on the Thanksgiving holiday Thursday, Nov. 25.

A 19-year-old Brainerd woman and a 21-year-old Blackduck woman died Thursday in a two-vehicle crash on Highway 210 east of Brainerd.

The Minnesota State Patrol reported 19-year-old Katrina Rose Lipp was driving a 2001 Chevrolet Malibu west on the highway near the intersection with White Pine Drive by the Brainerd Lakes Regional Airport when the vehicle crossed the centerline and was struck by a 2018 Chevrolet Silverado traveling east.

Lipp and passenger Tiffanie Amber Rivera were pronounced dead at the scene. Lipp wore a seat belt, according to the state patrol, while Rivera did not.

Both occupants of the Silverado — Robert John Heggerston, 74, and Jeanette Jane Heggerston, 74, both of Walnut Grove — suffered non-life-threatening injuries and were transported to Cuyuna Regional Medical Center in Crosby. Both wore seat belts, the state patrol reported.

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Road conditions were dry at the time of the crash, the report stated.

The Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office, which assisted the Minnesota State Patrol in responding to the crash, reported the highway was shut down beginning at 6:19 p.m., shortly after the crash occurred. Sheriff’s office personnel cleared the scene at 9:11 p.m., at which time the highway was reopened.

Also assisting at the scene were the Brainerd Fire Department, Brainerd Police Department and emergency medical services responders.


2021 crashes resulted in 411 fatalities versus 331 through October 2020. Of the 411 fatalities, 132 died in speed-related crashes, 104 in alcohol-related crashes and 86 people were unbelted.

Minnesota Department of Safety statistics


Earlier Thursday, a 16-year-old Apple Valley girl died after a rollover all-terrain vehicle crash in a field near County Road 142, east of Brainerd.

The Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Office reported two ATVs, each carrying two occupants, were traveling in the field on the west side of the roadway just before the crash occurred at 3:43 p.m. A 2009 Yamaha Grizzly ATV carrying the 16-year-old passenger along with operator 18-year-old Tashaud Nelson of Apple Valley was traveling east across the field when it entered a valley and rolled.

Nelson suffered serious injuries and was airlifted to North Memorial Health Hospital in Robbinsdale. The girl, whose identity was withheld pending family notification, was pronounced dead at the scene. Neither party wore a helmet, the sheriff’s office reported.

The sheriff’s office reported Nelson and the girl were visiting family in the area for the Thanksgiving holiday.

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A fourth young woman died last weekend in a two-vehicle collision Sunday, Nov. 21, north of Merrifield at the intersection of County Highway 3 and County Road 127. Emily Dallman, 22, of Baxter was pronounced dead at the scene after her vehicle was struck by one driven by 74-year-old Arlene Thompson of Brainerd.


"The pandemic has turned life upside down for many of us, and we’re now getting back to spending time with our loved ones. Let’s make sure we are creating positive memories this holiday season by making smart choices behind the wheel."

— Mike Hanson, Office of Traffic Safety director


BrokenWindshieldCrashGraphic.jpg
Photo illustration by Metro Newspaper Service

Spike in fatalities observed this year

The fatal crash on Highway 210 was one of two to which state troopers responded on the holiday Thursday.

Less than 40 minutes later in the southeast metro city of Cottage Grove, 51-year-old Jessica Ann Jackson of Woodbury died in a two-vehicle crash on Highway 61 south of Highway 95. It was unknown as of Friday whether Jackson wore a seat belt.

The holiday deaths come as the state experiences a dramatic uptick in traffic fatalities during 2021 along with driving while intoxicated offenses, patrols for which are currently increased during the busier holiday travel and celebration season.

The state patrol hosted a news conference Tuesday announcing the extra holiday patrols and calling attention to the spike in deaths.

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“The pandemic has turned life upside down for many of us, and we’re now getting back to spending time with our loved ones,” said Mike Hanson, Office of Traffic Safety director. “Let’s make sure we are creating positive memories this holiday season by making smart choices behind the wheel. I don’t want to be a Grinch, but too many drivers are doing the opposite. A significant jump in traffic fatalities since the pandemic is causing so much tragedy.”

Through the end of October, preliminary numbers compiled by the Minnesota Department of Public Safety showed 379 fatal traffic crashes this year, compared to 307 during the same period a year earlier. 2021 crashes resulted in 411 fatalities versus 331 through October 2020.


"I don’t want to be a Grinch, but too many drivers are doing the opposite. A significant jump in traffic fatalities since the pandemic is causing so much tragedy."

— Mike Hanson, Office of Traffic Safety director


Of the 411 fatalities, 132 died in speed-related crashes, 104 in alcohol-related crashes and 86 people were unbelted. Those ages 21-30 represented the age group with the highest number of deaths with 72, while the 31-40 age group saw 70 deaths.

Since the beginning of November, the Minnesota State Patrol was the primary agency responding to another 19 fatal crashes on state highways, including the two reported Thursday. Alcohol was listed as a factor in one of the 19.

These crashes caused 24 fatalities, including one north of Backus Nov. 4 that killed three people and a Nov. 3 motorcycle versus car crash on Highway 210 in Brainerd, resulting in the death of a 28-year-old man. A 58-year-old Little Falls man died Nov. 6 on Valley View Road in Eden Prairie when the semitrailer he drove rolled in the ditch.

Between January and October, a total of 20,589 motorists were arrested for DWI in the state, an increase of nearly 1,000 drivers over the 19,585 recorded in the same time frame in 2020.

CHELSEY PERKINS, community editor, may be reached at 218-855-5874 or chelsey.perkins@brainerddispatch.com . Follow on Twitter at twitter.com/DispatchChelsey .
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