DODGE CENTER — The Minnesota State Patrol has identified the three victims of Tuesday night’s fatal head-on crash on Highway 14 in Dodge County.
Scott Hodgman, 50, of West Concord and Jack Reich, 43, of Zap, N.D., and his 10-year-old son Vander Reich were all killed in the crash. Dodge County Sheriff Jim Jensen said the three were pronounced dead at the scene.
Mardee Reich, 39, was injured in the accident. She was airlifted to St. Marys Hospital in Rochester. According to the Mayo Clinic Public Affairs Office, she was listed in serious condition as of 8:40 a.m. Wednesday.
Jensen said the accident occurred at about 6:30 p.m. Tuesday, about a half mile west of Minnesota Highway 56, which is about a mile away from where Highway 14 switches from four lanes to two lanes. Jensen said the accident occurred in the portion of the highway where the road narrows to two lanes.
Jensen said the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office doesn’t see accidents in that area very often.
“This is a straightaway stretch. We have had them up around the curve in the past,” Jensen said. “We don’t have that many accidents out there, really.
“(The accident) was in the area where it was narrowing down. The two-lane part is quite wide in that area.”
The Minnesota State Patrol listed the road conditions as wet at the time of the accident. According to the report, the 2007 GMC Sierra that Hodgman was driving was traveling eastbound on Highway 14 when the vehicle crossed the center line and collided with the Reich’s 2008 Chevrolet Suburban. Both vehicles were towed to Kasson Kar Kare. There was no hazardous material present in the roadway.
Sgt. Jim Boley of the Minnesota State Patrol said there was no indication of why Hodgman’s truck crossed the center line.
All the occupants in both vehicles were wearing their seat belts and the airbags deployed. Jensen said the State Patrol, the Dodge County Sheriff’s Office, Dodge Center Ambulance, Dodge Center Fire Department and Cla remont Fire Department all responded to the accident.
A portion of Highway 14 from Highway 56 to Claremont was closed for about four hours after the accident. Some of the traffic was diverted onto Minnesota Highway 56. Jensen said the accident serves as a reminder that motorists need to take care when driving and pay attention.
Les Abraham, president of the U.S. Highway 14 Partnership and a member of the Owatonna City Council, said Tuesday’s accident further demonstrates the need for Highway 14 to become a four-lane road all the way to Dodge Center.
“With it being in the two-lane section, I think it shows the amount of traffic on that road. There’s a desperate need to build a four-lane. That would make it safer for everyone,” Abraham said.
Abraham has been at the lead of trying to get the completion of that portion of the highway into the Minnesota Department of Transportation’s 20-year plan. He’s not sure if Tuesday’s accident will be enough to open people’s eyes for the need for a four-lane road.
“I hope it does. I hope they start realizing the need to have that road finished,” Abraham said. “My fear is that it won’t, but my hope is that it will.”
Reach reporter Al Strain at 444-2376 or follow him on Twitter.com@OPPalstrain