Road worker hit by SUV near Prior Lake dies days later

·2 min read

A road worker who was hit by an SUV driver west of Prior Lake has died, authorities said Friday.

Ricardo Perez, 59, of Thief River Falls, Minn., was struck shortly after noon Monday in Spring Lake Township, according to the Scott County Sheriff's Office.

The driver was heading north on Marschall Road, where he struck Perez, who was directing traffic in a work zone north of E. 170th Street, the Sheriff's Office said.

Perez was taken to HCMC in Minneapolis, where he died Thursday afternoon, the Sheriff's Office said.

The work was being carried out by Northwest Asphalt & Maintenance of Thief River Falls and involved annual roadway crack-filling maintenance around the county.

The driver, 87-year-old John H. Oellrich of New Prague and his passenger were uninjured.

Sheriff Luke Hennen said his office will forward a case for consideration of charges to the Scott County Attorney's Office once the State Patrol has completed its investigation.

From 2015 to 2020 in Minnesota, 49 people have died and more than 4,900 have been injured in work zone traffic crashes, according to the state Department of Public Safety. Those numbers include vehicle occupants, workers or other pedestrians.

Since 1960 and including this latest fatality, 35 state transportation employees and 17 contractors have died while on the job, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Of those, at least 29 were hit by a vehicle.

The most recent death before Perez's occurred in October 2018 near Rogers, where a speeding semitrailer truck driver distracted by his cellphone struck contract worker Vernon C. Hedquist, 59, of Pillager, Minn.

The driver, Tate Doom, of St. Paul Park, was convicted of criminal vehicular homicide and sentenced to a term of four-plus years. He remains in prison until May 2023 before serving the balance of his time on supervised release.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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