Residents ask for a road fix following car crash
Crow Wing County Road 39 in Ideal Township winds its way between Bass and Kimble lakes, near the Norway Ridge Supper Club. Because of the winding road, the speed limit drops from 55 mph to 35 mph as motorists drive northbound between the two lake...
Crow Wing County Road 39 in Ideal Township winds its way between Bass and Kimble lakes, near the Norway Ridge Supper Club.
Because of the winding road, the speed limit drops from 55 mph to 35 mph as motorists drive northbound between the two lakes. But sometimes, motorists don't heed the signs to slow down.
As June 28 was turning to June 29, residents who live on the road were relaxing when they heard a loud, booming crash.
A teenager had taken the curve at a high speed and drove off the north side of the road. Residents say the driver drove through one yard, hit a berm, flew through a recreational vehicle, snapped through two pine trees, sailed over one driveway, flipped over and crashed to the ground in another driveway.
Residents sprang into action to check on the driver, who was standing outside of his vehicle when people got to him. He was dazed and in shock, residents said, but thankfully only sustained minor injuries.
It was a familiar sight for residents of the small stretch of road, who said three or four similar crashes have occurred on the stretch of road over the years. After the most recent crash, they asked Crow Wing County to come look at the road, to see if anything could be done to make it safer.
Crow Wing County Engineer Tim Bray checked out the scene the afternoon of June 29. One resident suggested after the crash the possibility of adding guard rails along the road. Typically, guard rails in Crow Wing County are used to protect from steep dropoffs and other roadside hazards, Bray said.
There seems to be enough signage in place to warn drivers of the lower speed limit, Bray said. The county will take a comprehensive look at the situation, he said, and determine what to do.
"It's hitting home for them, and I respect that," Bray said. "I'm just trying to take it all in on what to do, or to do anything at all."
After returning to his office, Bray said he looked at the crash history for the section of road using a Minnesota Department of Transportation database. The database tracks crashes both local and state agencies respond to on roads throughout the state, he said. No crashes showed up in the database for the stretch of road, Bray said, but he doesn't dispute residents who told him multiple crashes have occurred over the years.
"Either they weren't reported or something else happened," Bray said. "But they're not on that database."
His department is still investigating the curve, Bray said, and there's a lot of variables to consider. Residents still want to access their driveways, he said, so a continuous guard rail isn't an option. If the guard rail is broken into sections to allow driveway access, it might not be effective, he said.
Residents may want a fast fix, Bray said, but it's his job to look at the big picture and make sure a fix doesn't create more problems than it solves.
"We're still taking a look at it and being very prudent about it," Bray said.
The driver drove through an RV at 34304 County Road 39, owned by John Spadino. People stay in the RV from time to time, he said, and thankfully it was unoccupied the night of the crash. His father-in-law purchased the cabin in 1975 and this is the fourth crash he's seen on the small stretch of road. Those crashes range in severity and took place at different times of day and in different seasons, he said. He has had to repair buildings and replace trees after crashes, he said, at his own expense.
Steve Egeland, who was staying at his mother's home at 34334 County Road 39, had headphones on during the crash and felt the car's impact as it landed in the driveway.
"I could feel the thuds," Egeland said.
Egeland and his mother ran outside after the crash, he said, and he told his mother to call 911. He saw the driver standing next to his car, in shock but with minor injuries.
Fran Egeland, Steve Egeland's mother, said she's worried a large truck will come through the curve too quickly someday and cause major damage. They noted the debris field left in the wake of the crash with a sink basin and mattress from the RV carried out on a neighbor's lawn and the car's battery left in their driveway.
"I want action I and I need it now," Fran Egeland said, recalling the tremendous sound of the crash as the car sliced through the RV and trees. "I don't want to hear that sound again."
She said she appreciated the quick response of emergency first responders who arrived on scene after the crash. She's not concerned about how a guard rail might look, she said, and her only concern is safety.
"I don't want a little fix, I want a solid fix," Fran Egeland said. "So I can go to bed at night and not worry about my neighbors or my family."