Teen killed while crossing busy stretch of Hwy. 10 in Anoka

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: November 27, 2012 - 9:11 PM

Area unprotected by signals was near a marked crosswalk.

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A pedestrian waited for an opportunity to cross busy Hwy. 10 in Anoka at Verndale Avenue near the spot where Hannah Craft, 16, was killed Monday.

Photo: Glen Stubbe, Star Tribune

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Hannah Craft showed up at her fast-food restaurant job Monday night only to find out she wasn't scheduled to work. Minutes later, the Ramsey teen was struck and killed while navigating across a busy Anoka highway as she headed home.

Craft, 16, who walked to her job at the McDonald's restaurant, had crossed Hwy. 10's eastbound lanes and the median, then stepped into the westbound lane when she was struck by a westbound car about 7:40 p.m., according to the Anoka County Sheriff's Office.

"She's probably run across that street a million and one times," said her mother, Lakeisha Craft, sobbing.

The area near Verndale Avenue where her daughter crossed has no traffic signal, stop signs or marked crosswalk. An intersection marked by crosswalks and a traffic signal is about one-tenth of a mile south on Hwy. 10.

Minnesota State Patrol Lt. Eric Roeske said that "especially on high-speed roads and highways, pedestrians have to cross at a crosswalk and have to cross at a traffic signal" for maximum safety.

Roeske added that many pedestrians are hit when failing to cross at a traffic light or against the light, and nighttime conditions make circumstances additionally challenging for people on foot.

"It's difficult to judge the speed of traffic at night, with headlights and darkness," the lieutenant said. "You need to be even more careful."

The driver who struck the teen, Shawn M. Cole, 39, of Mound, was slightly injured in the collision and was treated at nearby Mercy Hospital.

So far this year, 31 pedestrians have been killed on Minnesota roads compared with 28 at this time last year, according to preliminary data collected by the state Department of Public Safety. The total number of pedestrian fatalities in 2011 was 40. Hannah Craft is the third pedestrian to die along Hwy. 10 in Anoka County in less than three months.

On Sept. 1, a couple from San Antonio were killed while crossing Hwy. 10 at Sunfish Lake Boulevard in Ramsey, which is about 1 1/2 miles from the intersection where Monday night's fatality occurred.

John Peter Nettelfield, 78, and Jean Nettelfield, 71, were crossing the highway to return to their hotel after eating dinner. They were in the crosswalk but crossing against a red light.

Local officials want overpasses built along parts of Hwy. 10 to make it safer for pedestrians. For the past decade, Ramsey officials have worked on plans to separate Hwy. 10 from street traffic and put interchanges at Armstrong, Ramsey and Sunfish Lake boulevards. The $300 million to $350 million cost, however, has put the project on indefinite hold.

Craft said her daughter, a junior at Centennial District's Pines School in Lino Lakes who was two weeks shy of her 17th birthday, enjoyed playing basketball and dreamed of being a flight attendant.

"I have eight kids in all; now I have seven," she said. "We are devastated. For eight years, I've been working three jobs."

Cathy Wyland, spokeswoman for the Centennial School District, said Hannah Craft started at the alternative school in mid-September and had been "working really hard to get her grades up and excel as a student. She was very gifted artistically ... and was excited about her new job at McDonald's."

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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