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Motorcyclist killed after hitting deer and then being struck by minivan

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A motorcyclist was run over by a minivan after hitting a deer in central Minnesota Monday night, and two witnesses were by his side when the fatal incident unfolded.

Roger Claassen, 44, was riding his motorcycle west on County Road 2 near the intersection of 124th Street in Baldwin Township, south of Princeton, around 7:30 p.m. when he struck a deer that ran onto the roadway, the Sherburne County Sheriff's Office said in a news release Tuesday.

Witnesses said Claassen was thrown from his motorcycle, and when they walked up to help him a minivan approached on the "dark roadway," the release notes.

The vehicle swerved to miss the witnesses, but struck Claassen, who was still on the road.

Claassen was pronounced dead on the scene. No one else was injured in the incident.

Sheriff’s Cmdr. Steve Doran spoke to the Star Tribune about the incident, saying he hates to make a "blanket statement" about what people should do in situations like this, but he says "unless you're well illuminated with your clothing" it's best to call 911 and wait for first responders.

The incident remains under investigation. It's not clear if charges will be filed against the driver of the vehicle, whose identity hasn't been released.

Deadly year for motorcyclists

It has been a deadly year for motorcyclists on Minnesota roads.

More than 50 motorcyclists have died on Minnesota roads this year, surpassing the 46 riders who were killed in all of last year.

Officials have also been warning all motorists about deer – the majority of deer-related crashes happen in the months of October, November and June, mostly due to hunting and mating seasons.

In 2013, there were 2,096 vehicle-deer collisions in Minnesota, the state Department of Public Safety noted, including eight crashes that resulted in fatalities.

It's not clear if the collision with the deer or being hit by the van killed Claassen, the Star Tribune says.

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