Commitment to safety
Adam Fredericksen was 18 and riding high during his senior year at Kasson-Mantorville High School.
Kaitlyn Hansen was a smiley 16-year-old “drama queen” at Fillmore Central High School in Harmony.
But an impaired driver slammed into Fredericksen’s vehicle in Kasson on Feb. 7, 2004, leaving him hospitalized for four months.
And a drunk driver struck Hansen’s vehicle head-on, on Jan. 28, 2016, near Chatfield. Hansen was declared dead at the scene. The other vehicle was traveling around 94 mph.
Fredericksen and Hansen’s family donated the heavily damaged vehicles in which those lives changed, to be displayed around the region in order to educate the public about the effects of impaired driving.
They were honored Nov. 22 for their commitment to traffic safety.
“It’s tough thinking about things that have happened, and being around other families that maybe haven’t been as lucky as I’ve been,” Fredericksen said during the event at the Dodge Center Fire Hall. “I think it’s important to show up and be part of these things and make sure people don’t forget that this does happen to friends, to family, to people in your community, and it has an effect. All of our actions have an impact. What we do here today, and the people we talk to, if it stops one person from driving drunk, it’s worth it.”
His car, displayed for more than 15 years, has been retired from the education circuit in favor of Hansen’s mangled vehicle, which was on display during the event, sponsored by the Southeast Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths program.
Law enforcement officers from TZD’s 11-county area attended the event.
Fredericksen spoke briefly, as did Dodge County Sheriff Scott Rose, Fillmore County Sheriff Tom Kaase, Rochester-area State Patrol Sgt. Troy Christianson, and members of Hansen’s family.
Christianson thanked the families for helping save lives.
“Combining education and enforcement, along with empowering the public to speak up about lining up a sober ride, will help us stop drunk driving-related crashes before they happen,” he said.
Hansen’s mother, Georgeanne, noted that Kaitlyn donated her organs, which have assisted many people – including a 5-month-old girl and a 7-year-old boy.
“She was a free spirit,” Georgeanne said. “She loved people. She loved everybody. She was your friend, whether you knew it or not. You just didn’t know it yet. She knew people all over the place. She wasn’t done, but as you can see, with her organs, she’s gone very far, to many states, many people.”
It’s important to promote awareness of such tragedies in order to try and prevent others, Dodge Center Ambulance Services director Jared Oscarson said.
“I think the more people are aware, the more responsible they’ll be,” he said, “and it puts it on the forefront of people’s minds to do the right thing, make good decisions and be responsible with operating vehicles, and safe and responsible in consuming beverages and things like that.
“And beyond this it goes to texting, distracted driving – all those things,” Oscarson said. “The goal is to get everybody home at night to their families and friends, and really have a safe community.”