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Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News) - An emotional event took place today at the Soldiers Field Veterans Memorial in Rochester to draw attention to the increasing number of tragedies occurring on Minnesota roadways and to urge motorists to slow down and avoid distractions and other actions that could add to the death toll.

Since Sunday morning, at least six people have perished in traffic crashes in Minnesota, which has raised the 2020 traffic death toll to at least 314. That is up nine percent from a year ago.

Over 300 empty chairs were set up at the memorial today to serve as a visual reminder of the crash victims and a backdrop for a veteran Emergency Medical Technician from southeastern Minnesota who spoke about the tragedy experienced by her family on the first day of 2020. Sarah Delaney of Mabel was among the emergency responders summoned to the scene of a collision between a passenger vehicle and a semi-truck on Highway 44 just outside the Fillmore County city this past New Year's Day.

photo supplied by MN Dept. of Public Safety
photo supplied by MN Dept. of Public Safety

Holding back tears, Sarah described glancing at the teenage boy in the front passenger seat and assessing there was nothing she could do to save him before she went to the other side of the vehicle to work on the driver. She then tearfully described her realization that the deceased boy was her son.

"I looked down and I seen this crazy, wild hair that looked familiar...and I seen this bracelet and realized it was my son."

17-year-old Dylan Delaney was Minnesota's first traffic fatality of 2020. Another teenager in the vehicle later died from injuries suffered in the same crash. While sharing her heartbreak, Sarah Delaney also urged Minnesota motorists to focus on the road and drive responsibly.

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