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Justine Wettschreck/Daily Globe At the law enforcement in the Prairie Justice Center, the Worthington Police Department uses stickers on a map of town to track traffic crashes, which helps them identify problematic areas.

Name released in Rock County fatal

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Name released in Rock County fatal
Worthington Minnesota 300 11th Street / P.O. Box 639 56187

9:41 p.m. update

BEAVER CREEK -- A 21-year-old Ohio man was killed at approximately 2:30 p.m. Wednesday on Interstate 90 when his vehicle drifted into the median, went through a guardrail and collided with the bridge pillar on Minnesota 23. Stuart Ross of Canton, Ohio, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to Capt. Brian West of the Minnesota State Patrol.

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Driving a 1995 Lexus, Ross was eastbound on I-90 just one mile east of the South Dakota border when the crash occurred. Passersby removed him from the vehicle.

"There doesn't appear to be any evasive movement," West stated. "(The vehicle) just basically travelled across the lanes, entered the median, travelled between the guardrails and hit the MN23 overpass pillar. Then someone came along and removed him from the vehicle before it became engulfed in flames."

The Beaver Creek Fire Department and Luverne Ambulance were called to the scene.

West said authorities are unsure why Ross drifted off the road. An autopsy will be performed and the crash is still under investigation.

"We always try to get blood samples to find out if there was any impairment," West explained, "but we won't know those results for several weeks."

Four people died in vehicle crashes in Nobles County during the month of August -- more than half the number of people who suffered fatalities due to crashes in 2009. Seven people were killed last year, up three from the four that died as the result of car crashes in 2008.

"We're seeing trends where so many crashes are caused by inattentive driving," West stated. "That is not necessarily the case with these recent crashes. We don't know what the reasons behind them were."

On Aug. 5, after a collision between a grain truck and a motorcycle on a gravel road, Nobles County Sheriff Kent Wilkening cautioned drivers to be careful on rural intersections where crops could impede vision. A week later, a vehicle slid on gravel and the driver lost control, rolling the truck. Two weeks later, a man went the wrong way down I-90 and got into a head-on collision with a teenage driver. Then there was the six-car pile up on Oxford Street earlier this week.

In and around the county in August, there were a number of crashes investigated by the Minnesota State Patrol and local law enforcement that involved injuries or property damage. A teen on his way home from the fair was critically injured when he drove off a bridge; a hit and run on Diagonal Road resulted in a broken leg; and there were a number of rollovers, sideswipes, fender benders and other crashes that caused bumps, bruises, contusions and property damage.

"You have rear-end style crashes, people drifting across their lanes ... Everyone knows the distraction issues that are taking place right now," West said. "There should be no texting, and people shouldn't be talking on their phones while driving."

West said the fire in Ross' vehicle burned up evidence, and it is unknown whether or not he was wearing his seatbelt.

"Further investigation will give us better information on that," he stated.

Wearing a seatbelt is very important, West said. In conjunction with airbags, a seatbelt increases the likelihood of surviving a crash.

"If a person is ejected from a vehicle or tossed around inside, the chances of surviving, especially at roadway speeds, are so slight, he added.

During Labor Day weekend, West warned, there will be extensive enforcement on I-90.

"We want to get the point across that this is a long and dangerous weekend," he stated. "People need to be watching their speeds and wearing seatbelts."

Even with the recent local incidents, West said Minnesota is on track to have one of the safest driving years as far as fatal crashes are concerned.

"But even one person is too many," he said.

BEAVER CREEK -- A 21-year-old Ohio man was killed Wednesday on Interstate 90 when his vehicle drifted into the median, went through a guardrail and collided with the bridge pillar on Minnesota 23.

Stuart Ross on Canton, Ohio, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to Capt. Brian West of the Minnesota State Patrol.

Driving a 1995 Lexus, Ross was eastbound on I-90 just one mile east of the South Dakota border when the crash occurred. Passersby removed him from the vehicle before authorities before it became engulfed in flames.

The Beaver Creek Fire Department and Luverne Ambulance were called to the scene.

West said authorities are unsure why Ross drifted off the road. An autopsy will be performed and the crash is still under investigation.

Check tomorrow's Daily Globe print edition, as well as the website, for more on this story.

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