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St. Paul, MN (KROC-AM News) - The Minnesota Department of Public Safety is reporting that there were at least 13 traffic fatalities in the state since the start of the Fourth of July holiday weekend travel period began last Thursday.

The traffic fatality death toll for the year now stands at 215, which is 40 percent higher than it was after the Independence Day holiday last year. Just last Thursday, the department reported the grim count had reached 200 at the earliest point of any year in the past decade.

One of the most recent traffic deaths occurred last night in a suburban community on the east side of the Twin Cities. The State Patrol says 40-year-old Jason Sowards of Minneapolis died after he was thrown off his motorcycle when it collided with the right rear fender of a car that was being towed behind an SUV with a chain. The crash was reported shortly after 10 PM on westbound I-94 in Oakdale.

This morning, a southern Minnesota man was severely injured in a rollover crash in Le Sueur County. The State Patrol says 53-year-old David Volkman of Waterville was driving west on Highway 60 in a van when the vehicle rolled after he swerved to avoid a collision and lost control. The crash occurred shortly before 11 AM and Volkman was airlifted on Mayo One to St. Marys Hospital with life-threatening injuries.

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