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Wrong-way driver in Duluth I-35 crash was on probation for DWI: Donations sought for victims

DULUTH—Relatives of the mother and daughter killed in a wrong-way, head-on crash on Interstate 35 in Duluth are asking for donations to help defray the cost of their funerals.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to accept donations for the family of Duanda Robinson, 26, and Damiah Anderson, 2, both of Duluth

Brittany Jackson, Robinson's aunt, said Robinson was driving from her brother's house in Duluth back to her own house in Duluth just before 1 a.m. Monday, April 2, when her 2001 GMC Yukon was struck head-on by the wrong-way driver.

Aaron David Dame, 23, of Duluth, was traveling north on southbound I-35 when his 1997 Toyota 4Runner collided with Robinson's Yukon near 40th Avenue West. The Minnesota State Patrol said alcohol was detected in his system.

Dame, who was convicted of drunken driving in 2016, and Robinson were pronounced dead at the scene. Damiah Anderson was pronounced dead at Essentia Health-St. Mary's Medical Center.

Two passengers in the Yukon — Robinson's infant nephew, Jajuan Anthony Starks, and his mother, 22-year-old Arriana Nicole Norling, both of Minneapolis — were transported to Essentia Health-St. Mary's Medical Center.

"My nephew, by the grace of God, is alive," said Robinson's aunt, Catdetra Starks, who added that Jajuan was recovering but spent Monday night in the hospital for observation.

Starks said Norling has been released from the hospital but suffered broken ribs and other injuries.

Dame's passenger, Abigail Kristine Ptasnik, 22, of Duluth, was transported to Hennepin County Medical Center with injuries that were were described as life-threatening. She was listed in serious condition at the Minneapolis hospital as of late Tuesday afternoon.

Robinson, who has three other children who were not in the car, moved to Duluth from the Twin Cities several years ago. She was in the process of moving back to the Twin Cities when the crash occurred, said Jackson.

"She moved to Duluth to try to get her life back together,'' Starks said. Funeral services are tentatively planned in the Twin Cities, she added.

While the Patrol noted that alcohol was found in Dame's system, it can often take months for official toxicology results to be available. Neither Dame nor Ptasnik were wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash, authorities said.

It remained unclear how far Dame's vehicle traveled in the southbound lanes before the collision occurred. A State Patrol spokesman could not be reached for additional details Tuesday.

Driver was on probation for DWI

Dame remained on supervised probation in his earlier drunken driving case.

In that incident, authorities said Dame was driving at approximately three times the legal limit when he rammed his vehicle into a concrete post at a West Duluth convenience store.

Dame pleaded guilty to a gross misdemeanor count of third-degree driving while impaired. A six-month jail sentence was stayed in favor of two years of probation, which was set to expire this June.

A criminal complaint in that case indicates that Dame, then 21, had been drinking at a bar shortly before crashing the same Toyota 4Runner into a barrier at the Kwik Trip store at 6516 Grand Ave. around 2:30 a.m. on June 17, 2016.

A police officer who happened to be on scene observed evidence of damage and found Dame inside the store. Dame reportedly claimed he had three "big mug glasses" of beer, and acknowledged that he intended to get back behind the wheel after leaving the store, according to the complaint.

A preliminary breath test placed his blood-alcohol concentration at 0.24, with an official test an hour later registering at 0.22. The legal limit for driving in Minnesota is 0.08.

Prior to Monday's crash, Dame did not have any documented violations of his probation — the terms of which required that he abstain from alcohol use and submit to random testing.

He had earlier legal issues involving alcohol, pleading guilty to underage consumption citations issued in 2013 and 2014. He was again cited in 2015, with that charge later being dismissed when he pleaded guilty to criminal damage to property.

To donate

Donations to the family of Duanda Robinson and Damiah Anderson can be made at gofundme.com/burial-funds-for-duanda-and-damiah.

To make donations for Abigail Ptasnik and her family, go to gofundme.com/prayforabigail.

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