One moment Grant Skluzacek was rolling down a dark county road on his motorcycle. The next he was rolling on the ground.
Skluzacek was hit from behind by another driver around 11 p.m. April 29 as he headed home after a night out with friends. By the time he got up, the driver was long gone.
The 18-year-old said he noticed a car following him as he turned off an Interstate 35 frontage road in Lakeville onto County Road 21, also known as 185th Street. The vehicle followed as he traveled west until he passed Judicial Road, and that's when things got odd. The driver of the trailing vehicle turned off the headlights, then flipped them back on and sped up before slamming into Skluzacek's bike near Hobby Hills Trail in Credit River Township. The impact sent him flying.
"I had no reaction time, I had no time to brace," Skluzacek said in an interview last week. "I found it intentional. He had plenty of room to go around me."
Skluzacek said he does not know who hit him,. Late Friday, the Scott County Sheriff's Office said they have found the vehicle, a 1999 blue Honda Accord DX. There have been no arrests and the investigation continues, Sheriff Luke Hennen said.
Skluzacek suffered a fractured wrist, some gashes that required stitches and lots of road rash.
"I'm glad I was wearing protective gear," he said. "It saved my life."
Skluzacek is recovering and expects to be back to work in six weeks. Not all stories turn out so well.
New research from the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety found hit-and-run crashes are occurring at an alarming rate, with one every 43 seconds. In 2016, more than 2,049 people were killed in crashes in which at least one party left the scene. That was the highest number on record and an increase of 60 percent since 2009, according to the study, which analyzed data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Minnesota recorded 18 hit-and-run deaths in 2016, the most since 2013, when there were 15.
The research found that another 138,500 people like Skluzacek were hurt in hit-and-run crashes in 2015, the latest year for which injury statistics were available. That year, there were 737,100 hit-and-run crashes across the nation.
"Hit-and-run crashes in the United States are trending in the wrong direction," said David Yang, the foundation's executive director.
In Skluzacek's case, "the driver had an obligation to stay at the scene until the authorities arrived," Hennen said. "Nobody deserves to be abandoned on the side of the road with injuries."
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