FOX 9 News spoke with Bill Shaffer, Minnesota's motorcycle safety coordinator, about the spring uptick in fatal crashes and how riders can stay safe.
VADNAIS HEIGHTS, Minn. (KMSP) -
Some debris on the highway caused a deadly motorcycle accident in Vadnais Heights.
The crash happened around 9:30 p.m. Wednesday on Interstate 694 near Labore Road when the motorcycle hit a piece of tire tread that was lying in the road, according to The Minnesota State Patrol.
The rider -- Brittany Larson, 22, of White Bear Lake -- was thrown from the motorcycle and hit by an SUV. She was on her way back from work when she crashed.
FOX 9 News spoke with Larson's family, and they want to send a powerful message about the need for helmets.
"My sister was amazing," said Brooke Larson, the victim's younger sister.
Brittany Larson was the middle child of three, and Brooke Larson told FOX 9 News her older sister made friends wherever she went and was a free spirit who loved adventure.
"She was too wild -- and if you think you can do whatever you want, you obviously can't," Brooke Larson said.
Family members say the 22-year-old thrill-seeker was drawn to motorcycles -- and the family has a history of riding. She had just got her license three months ago and purchased her first bike.
Brittany Larson's brother had given her a helmet, and her mother was brought to tears when she shared a picture of her late daughter wearing it -- and wondered aloud why she hadn't worn it on Wednesday.
"I went in and identified my sister today in the morgue because she rode her motorcycle without a helmet on," Brooke Larson said.
Larson's brother has parked his bike in his mother's garage, and said it's officially for sale. Still, the family says they know others will continue to ride -- they just want it to be done responsibly.
The Larsons told FOX 9 News they would like to see laws requiring helmets on Minnesota roads in the future.
Debris on the road is particularly dangerous for motorcyclists, who should try to avoid it at all costs -- but it's unclear whether Brittany Larson ever saw it. The Minnesota State Patrol says it's extremely rare for debris to cause a deadly crash, but say anyone who sees debris on the road should call 911 to have it removed as soon as possible.
After Wednesday night's accident, 14 motorcycle riders have died this year on Minnesota roads, compared to five this time last year.
That spike is causing officials to launch a safety campaign.
The Department of Public Safety is urging motorcycle riders and other vehicles to share the road. They're encouraging drivers to look twice for motorcyclists and bringing back the "start seeing motorcyclists" bumper sticker.