Last week Aimee Rogers came to a startling realization as she rode the bus on the first day of school.
“I realized every single day for the rest of my school year I have to sit in a seat and drive right past where my brother had the accident,” Aimee said.
She was referring to the August 21 crash in which her brother, 17-year-old Ian Rogers, was killed when hit by a car on Highway 25 while riding his bike to his home in the Kjellberg mobile home park.
Aimee and her mother Christina “Kiki” Rogers appeared before the Monticello City Council Monday, Sept. 10 to ask for the City’s support in petitioning MnDOT to make changes to the stretch of Highway 25 that has now claimed two lives.
Christina Rogers recalled the night her son died.
At 11 :30 p.m. on Aug. 21, Christina and her husband were awoken by a loud knock on their door.
“At first, we thought it was our son Ian, because being 17, we knew he was out that evening,” she said. “But he was supposed to be home by 10.”
The Rogers were surprised when they opened their door.
“We found four sheriff’s (deputies) there asking to speak to us,” Christina Rogers said.
“They came into our home and lowered their hats to their chests. They proceeded to tell my husband and I that our son had been killed that night on Highway 25,” she said.
Ian Rogers had been at Sturges Park in Buffalo spending time with friends. He had nearly completed the 10-mile bike ride home when he was hit from behind by a vehicle close to where a median begins to separate the north and south lanes of Highway 25 near the mobile home park.
It’s the same median that Aimee Rogers says she and her brother Ian used to cross.
“I remember my brother and I going across the median and having to wait so we didn’t go when a car was about to approach and him telling me to always be careful going on it,” she said of the median.
“I don’t understand why the median was put there when most of the community said they didn’t want that there anyway. I just hope something can be done...” Aimee Rogers told members of the City Council.
Christina Rogers says it was a mistake from the beginning when MnDOT installed the median with a u-turn a few years back during a Highway 25 reconstruction project.
She says a crosswalk with a stoplight would have been far more safe and appropriate.
“It would have provided what’s missing now, a safe crossing path for our children, residents, and disabled persons,” she said.
Christina Rogers also called for reducing the speed limit through the residential area that is home to about 300 mobile homes.
After the reconstruction of Highway 25, the speed limit was increased to 60 mph from near Kjellberg’s mobile home park and south towards County Road 106.
“I fell the 60 mpg speed limit is dangerous. I request reducing it to 45 mph to County Road 106,” Christina Rogers said.
Ian Rogers was a a good kid who loved to make people laugh, had dreams of becoming an EMT, going to college, joining a fraternity and going to business school, his mother said. He wanted to be a camp counselor and had just returned from camp the day before he died.
“Ian was a wonderful boy and I don’t feel his life should have been lost...but it was,” Christina Rogers said.
“I just don’t want any more lives to be lost on that same stretch of highway,” she said.
In addressing the Monticello City Council, Christina Rogers said she prays for the courage of the council members to stand forward and make a proclamation to MnDOT that they, as city representatives, support creating a safer environment on Highway 25 at the Kjellberg trailer park.
“I pray for the wisdom in you making such a decision,” she said. “I ask for your support.”
That support came soon after Christina Roger’s plea to the City Council when authorization was given to City staff to form a committee to address the Highway 25 issue.
City Administrator Jeff O’Neill noted that the City was in a position to be an advocate for change when it comes to the Highway 25 location and can be an advocate for a design change that works for the City and its residents.
The City will work towards establishing a small committee made up of city council members, city staff, and community members with a goal of providing input to MnDOT on the issue.
Mayor Brian Stumpf called the committee a great idea that would help keep momentum for changes moving.
He said the committee could come up with a strategic plan that it could bring forward to MnDOT. It could also sit down with MnDOT to keep the “ball rolling,” Stumpf said.
“We don’t want this to sit idle,” he said.
Cheistina Rogers added that she is prepared to work with any City Council members, MnDOT, and state legislators to help Highway 25 changes come to fruition.
Reach Jeff Hage at email@example.com