Accident on Highway 7 sparks road safety conversation

Community voices concern, sympathy


Grace Farley

A yield sign is decorated alongside Highway 7 and Texas Avenue in honor of Hopkins freshman Daunte Moore.

Nicole Sanford

According to Police Chief Michael Harcey, a Hopkins high school student was killed Feb. 15 in a vehicle collision near the intersection of Highway 7 and Texas Avenue. In light of the recent tragedy, junior Ava Townsend said the unexpected event strongly impacted the community.

“I think more people are shocked about it, nobody has really done anything, they’re more just surprised that it happened,” Townsend said.

According to Harcey, few details have been disclosed as the accident is still currently under investigation.

“Obviously it’s a tragic event, and we are sad to see that that happened, especially where a young person (was involved),” Harcey said. “The Minnesota State Patrol is the investigating agency on the accident. They will do a complete investigation of the accident … they’ll put everything to scale, and then they will determine if there was any fault and who was at fault for the accident.”

According to Driver Education Program Coordinator and Instructor Bill Wodarski, the lack of seatbelt use, speeding, substance use and distracted driving remain the four main causes of car accidents. Wodarski said distracted driving related accidents has recently equaled the number of accidents caused driving under the influence.

“People are distracted too much. The whole point of (driver’s education) class is to get the kids their permit, but we always knock it into their heads that you have to think of this as a full time job,” Wodarski said. “No matter where you’re driving, no matter what time of day, don’t relax and think nothing will happen.”

Following the incident, Harcey said the police department researched records of past accidents in the same area near Highway 7 and Texas Avenue and found minimal collisions.

“We looked back 10 years at those intersections, and I think we had just a couple pedestrian accidents and a couple bicycle accidents,” Harcey said. “Those intersections at the Texas and Highway 7 intersection is pretty known for rear end accidents — we get a lot of those traffic accidents there, but overall we have a pretty safe community as far as those kind of accidents.”

Freshman Elie Grassley said the accident emphasized danger of both driver and pedestrian distraction.

“I think it’s really sad, and I think it made people pay more attention about what they’re doing on their phones or where they’re crossing the street so it doesn’t happen to them,” Grassley said.

According to Wodarski, both pedestrians and drivers must take responsibility for their own safety and the safety of others.

“Pedestrians should be aware of their surroundings. Even if they have a pedestrian crosswalk sign with an arrow, even if they have a walk sign, check both ways because don’t trust anybody,” Wodarski said. “As a driver, I always am aware of bicycles and pedestrians because you never know when they’re distracted and when they’re just going to come in your lane and travel either from the right side or right across your path.”

Harcey said implementing more education about distracted driving remains a proactive way to decrease accidents and boost overall road safety.

“I think there should always be education around traffic safety, but typically with those kind of accidents, we see a rise of distracted driving as a cause of these accidents,” Harcey said. “That is the thing I would push if I had my way here. I would just push more on distracted driving enforcement.”