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More motorcycle deaths in MN as husband and wife killed in accident

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A husband and wife have been killed in a motorcycle crash southwest of the Twin Cities metro area – continuing an alarming trend of biker deaths in Minnesota.

The Star Tribune reports that Patrick and Heidi Gongoll, both 41, of Norwood Young America, died when the former lost control of his motorcycle on County Road 11 in Dahlgren Township, near Chaska, just after 10 p.m. Wednesday.

It brings the total number of motorcycle fatalities in Minnesota this year to 36, the newspaper notes, compared to 17 at this point last year and 46 in total during 2014, Minnesota Department of Public Safety statistics show.

The Carver County Sheriff's Office told KSTP that neither of the victims were wearing helmets at the time of the accident, which saw them thrown from their motorcycle after it hit a field approach.

Heidi Gongoll was declared dead at the scene, while her husband was taken by ambulance to Two Twelve Medical Center in Chaska, where he died from his injuries, reports note.

Could training help reduce spike in deaths?

While the number of motorcycle deaths in Minnesota is rising, participation in motorcycle safety training courses is not.

The St. Cloud Times spoke to Bill Shaffer, motorcycle safety coordinator with the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, who said he could see the number of deaths surpassing 80 this year, adding that many of the crashes are caused by "rider error and inexperience."

Yet with 414,000 licensed riders in Minnesota, only between 300 and 400 each year take a safety course beyond the first "Basic Rider Course," the newspaper notes, with some in St. Cloud having to be canceled due to low sign-ups.

"Some of the inexperience you see is dangerous," teacher Tom Travaglio told the newspaper. "You see people on the roads who can't shift, can't balance."

You can find out more about motorcycle rider training courses on the Minnesota Department Public of Safety website.

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