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2 dead in separate fatal crashes Thursday in central Minnesota

There have been 229 deaths on state roadways so far in 2020.

The State Patrol reported two fatal crashes on Minnesota roadways Thursday, the first in Kandiyohi County and the second in Aitkin County. 

At approximately 12:30 p.m., a 60-year-old woman driving a Mack dump truck was traveling south on Hwy. 23 when she went off the road north of 199th Ave. NE near New London in Kandiyohi County. 

The dump truck entered the ditch and rolled before coming to a rest on the passenger side. The driver, identified as Pamela Kay Woltjer, of New London, died at the scene. She was not wearing a seat belt, according to the crash report. 

Later Thursday, around 7:50 p.m., a two-vehicle crash involving a semi and an SUV happened at the intersection of Hwy. 65 and Hwy. 18 in Williams Township, which is about 10 miles east of Mille Lacs Lake near McGrath. 

The State Patrol said the semi driver – a 33-year-old man from St. Louis, Missouri – was eastbound on Hwy. 18 when his big rig was struck by the driver of 2007 Lincoln Navigator that was northbound on Hwy. 65. 

Both vehicles wound up in the ditch, with the semi driver sustaining non-critical injuries and the motorist behind the wheel of the Navigator suffering fatal injuries. The woman driving the Navigator was identified as Kerry Lea Heiniemi, 40, of Goodland, Minnesota. 

There have been 229 deaths on Minnesota roads so far in 2020. At the same point in 2019 there had been 215 deaths, according to the state's Office of Traffic Safety. 

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