Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom has called for legislative reform after a Missouri man was sentenced to just one month for his role in an accident that killed two roadside workers in 2011.
Late Wednesday, Kirk Edward Deamos, 23, of Raymore, MO pleaded guilty to careless driving. "Careless Driving" is a misdemeanor under Minnesota statute, with a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine. Dakota County Judge Arlene Perkkio sentenced Deamos, 23, of Raymore, Mo., to 30 days in jail, 200 hours of community service and a $100 fine.
Under current statute, Deamos could not be charged with a felony. Deamos was not drunk or high at the time of the crash, nor did he flee the scene, which are two conditions that would elevate the charge to a felony. Since 2007, Backstrom has advocated for an increased penalty for negligent driving that results in death.
"This is another tragic example of the need to have a law in place that deals with taking negligent risks while driving that reflect it is more serious to hit and kill a human being than it is to damage a mailbox," Backstrom said in a press release.
According to the original criminal complaint, on Oct. 13, 2011, Deamos was driving his 1998 Mitsubishi 3000 GT north on Interstate 35W. Deamos told police he was on the way to Collegeville to visit his girlfriend, a student at the College of Saint Benedict.
He was just south of the McAndrews overpass in Burnsville when he lost control of the car and veered into a ditch on the right side of the road, striking two men who were working on the shoulder: Ramsey resident Craig Carlson, 47, and 44-year-old Ronald Rajkowski, of St. Joseph. Carlson was pronounced dead at the scene. Rajkowski died later at the hospital as a result of injuries.
At the time of the crash, the weather was clear and the road was dry. It was just after noon. Deamos was not speeding, nor on his cell phone and he showed no signs of intoxication. The car was found to be in good mechanical condition.
Deamos said that he took his eye off the road to turn off the cruise control, and when he looked up and was too close to a concrete barrier. He overcorrected several times and finally lost traction. The car did a 180 and went into a slide, striking a pole before hitting the two men.
After the sentence was handed down Wednesday, Backstrom pledged to push for a legislative remedy in St. Paul.