A 22-year-old Missouri man looked down to adjust his car's cruise-control function right before he lost control, veered off the road and fatally struck two construction workers, according to criminal charges filed Monday.
Kirk Edward Deamos, of Raymore, Mo., has been charged in Dakota County District Court with a misdemeanor count of careless driving in connection with the crash last October. He will make his first court appearance on July 25, according to Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom. Deamos, who lives in suburban Kansas City, was charged by summons.
According to the criminal complaint, Deamos lost control of his vehicle and drove into a ditch, hitting the two men. Deamos told investigators that he had only purchased the car two days before the crash.
The accident happened on Oct. 13, 2011, on Interstate 35W near McAndrews Road in Burnsville. Killed were 47-year-old Craig Carlson of Ramsey and 44-year-old Ronald Rajkowski of St. Joseph.
Both were electricians working on a construction project on the side of the road. Carlson died at the scene and Rajkowski died from his injuries at Hennepin County Medical Center.
A State Patrol investigation determined that the driver was not going too fast at the time of the crash.
The State Patrol said that Deamos left Missouri at 4 a.m. on the day of the crash, traveling to Minnesota to see his girlfriend in Collegeville, Minn. While traveling through Iowa he received a speeding ticket for going 85 miles per hour in a zone designated for 70 mph.
At the time of the crash, Deamos said, he was adjusting the cruise control on his vehicle and looked down for a few seconds. He then looked up and found himself too close to the construction barriers and steered to the right.
He told police the car veered farther than he wanted and he overcompensated to the left and then to the right again.
Soon he was in the ditch. His car hit a pole, but it continued sliding and slammed into the two workers.
Backstrom said that without the presence of drugs or alcohol, and because Deamos was not texting or talking on a cell phone at the time of the crash, a harsher penalty could not be sought under current law.
The misdemeanor charge carries a maximum penalty of 90 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.
"Under these circumstances we are not able to prove gross negligence," Backstrom said.
Heron Marquez • 952-746-3281