West Duluth man's death part of a surge in pedestrians getting run over

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A West Duluth man fatally struck by a van while crossing a parking lot over the weekend leaves behind four children younger than 10.

Authorities identified 37-year-old Brian Respler as the victim of Saturday's incident, KBJR 6 reports.

Police arrested the driver of the van and charges are expected against the 27-year-old, who the News Tribune says has a history of DWI and drug offenses.

The newspaper says Respler had worked through learning disabilities and had been employed at Goodwill Duluth for the last 10 years.

The New York transplant explained in a Goodwill blog post last year how he enjoyed working on the trucks and loading docks in Duluth.

Respler's death is part of a recent spike in accidents that left pedestrians injured.

St. Paul sees seven hit in a week

The Pioneer Press reports a mother held her 3-year-old by the hand Friday as they peered around a school bus to make sure the coast was clear before crossing a road in St. Paul's North End neighborhood.

Mother and child are now hospitalized with life-threatening injuries after a car sped around the bus and struck them. The Pioneer Press says the driver is charged with two counts of criminal vehicular operation.

Police tell the newspaper seven people suffered serious injuries when hit by vehicles last week alone.

Rochester man critical

Jason Tursso of Rochester was in critical condition after he was hit by a pickup truck Monday morning, ABC 6 News reports. Witnesses told police the 45-year-old Tursso was acting erratically and was walking down the middle of the street into traffic, the station says.

KIMT reports the driver of the pickup was a paramedic who rendered first aid immediately.

Pedestrian deaths more than double 2014's total

Cars and trucks aren't the only hazards to those on foot. A pedestrian walking along railroad tracks in Coon Rapids over the weekend was struck and killed by a train.

The Star Tribune reports Minnesota's 17 pedestrian deaths in 2014 marked a six-year low, but safety officials say that number has more than doubled this year, with 38 fatalities by mid-December.

Some of the accidents, officials say, occur while pedestrians are distracted by text messages or cell phone conversations.

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