Two pedestrians were killed in separate incidents on Minnesota roads Sunday.
The first incident happened a little after 9 p.m. on Hwy 13 in Dakota County. According to the State Patrol, 45-year-old Juan Morales-Castro of Burnsville was running across traffic when he was hit by a vehicle in the left lane.
Morales-Castro was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center, but did not survive. The driver of the vehicle was wearing a seat belt and was not injured.
The second pedestrian was hit about two hours later in Lake of the Woods County. That report says the driver tried to swerve after spotting a a man kneeling in roadway on County Rd 8, but his car ultimately hit him. The 39-year-old victim's identity has not been released yet.
In both incidents, the State Patrol says road conditions were dry and alcohol was not a factor in the crashes.
Pedestrian deaths have gone up in Minnesota recently. There were 60 in 2016, according to the Department of Public Safety.
That's the most pedestrian deaths Minnesota has seen in 25 years.
The department told GoMN it’s too early to tell exactly what caused the spike in pedestrians deaths last year.
"It is distressing to see such an increase in pedestrian deaths," said Office of Traffic Safety Director Donna Berger. "It’s especially upsetting because this doesn’t have to happen. These tragedies are preventable."
Berger said motorists need to slow down and pay attention. Watch for pedestrians, and don’t be looking at your phone. Distracted driving is a leading cause of all types of crashes.
But pedestrians must also be careful. In both of the incidents Sunday, the pedestrians were in the roadway.
The department recommends only crossing where crosswalks are marked, or where there are traffic lights. Even though you have the right-of-way, make sure you check for vehicles and make eye contact with drivers before you cross the street. Also, never walk down the middle of the road or try to cross an interstate.