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Highway 42 Crash Numbers Down

January 21, 2014, 10:07 PM by Brady Mallory

Highway 42 Crash Numbers Down

According to state numbers, Sunday's deadly crash is the first fatality on Highway 42 in South Dakota in almost three years.

Authorites said 18-year-old Meg Raj Gajmer was driving east when his car crossed the center line and collided with a truck going west.  Gajmer died.  Just two days after that crash, which was near Rowena, we came across a less severe crash just down the road at the intersection near Dawley Farm.  Julie Watters, who tried to help Sunday's victims, said the common denominator is Highway 42.

"Traffic has gotten worse out here, and granted, it's because of the casino," Watters said.   

"I'm out on that road quite a bit.  There does seem to be an influx of more traffic.  I do know the state is doing a road study in reference to the amount of vehicles," Capt. Jim Hoekman with Minnehaha Co. Sheriff's Office said.

Hoekman pointed out a different trend when it comes to crashes on this highway.  State numbers from the Department of Transportation show there were 35 crashes in 2011, with two fatalities.  The number of crashes in 2012 was 31.  The number dropped further to 24 just last year.

"The number of accidents and fatality accidents has gone down since the casino opened," Hoekman said.

Recently the Minnehaha County Sheriff's Office put more deputies on the stretch of road, but Hoekman said authorities actually receive more complaints about secondary roads near Highway 42.

"They're more residential roads, so we're getting speeding complaints, stop sign violations on those side roads," Hoekman said.

The Highway Patrol is still investigating what exactly caused Sunday's fatal crash, but Hoekman hopes this isn't the beginning of a new trend.

"It's a tragedy for the whole community," Hoekman said.

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