Posted: Thursday, 28 April 2011 5:01PM

Governor Dayton Honors Fallen MnDOT Workers In Mankato

MANKATO – “I can relate to you.”
Governor Mark Dayton spoke today in front of several hundred who gathered at the MnDOT headquarters in Mankato for their annual Workers Memorial Day.
His words were directed to the family Mike Struck, a nine-year MnDOT employee out of the Mankato office who died on the job last month while clearing flood debris between Mankato and St. Peter.
To the family of Darrell Blackwell, a MnDOT employee who died while performing tractor mowing operations along Highway 4, south of Fairfax in October 2006.
To co-workers and friends.
Dayton spoke of his friend Paul Wellstone who died in a 2002 plane crash while on the campaign trail in northern Minnesota.
“Similar accident…serving the people of Minnesota,” said Dayton.
Typically with modest turnouts in the past, this year’s event carried with it the heavy hearts of a group of public employees still grieving the loss of Struck.
It’s not a loss soon to be forgotten.
“I remember the shock and horror,” as Dayton recounted learning of the death of Senator Wellstone.  “Why god…why do good people who are serving their fellow human beings have to pay for that commitment and dedication with their lives. It seems so terrible unfair…unjust…and wrong.”
Struck’s backhoe was working along Highway 169 at Seven Mile Creek Park when it was pulled into the flood waters. His body was carried through a culvert under the highway and into the backwaters of the park.
His body wasn’t found for 24 hours.
“You son is a true Minnesota hero,” Dayton told the Struck family. “A true American hero who gave his life serving his fellow Minnesotans.”
Dayton also addressed the MnDOT and other public employees at the memorial. He spoke of how Minnesota residents take for granted the job they do.
“Unrecognized, unappreciated and even sometimes terribly scorned and vilified for no good reason whatsoever,” said Dayton.
Dayton called on a rededication to the safety of the workplace.
“Because no one should have to pay for a career in public service with their lives,” said Dayton.
At the start of the ceremony there were 32 chairs, draped with a reflective vest, a hard hat, and the name of each of the 32 MnDOT employees who have died on the job since 1960.
Then a 33rd chair with Struck’s name was given its place among the others to make sure Struck’s sacrifice would also never be forgotten.

LISTEN -- Governor Dayton's Workers Memorial Day Address in Mankato

A fund has been established to help pay for the education of Struck’s children, 6-year-old Kaylee and Gavin who is 4.
Donations can be made to:
Mike Struck Memorial Fund
c/o Nicollet County Bank
220 South Third Street
St. Peter, MN 56082

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Filed Under :  
Topics : MnDOT
Locations : Mankato
People : Darrell BlackwellMark DaytonMike Struck