Toward Zero Deaths awards for two southeast Minnesotans

Emily Steffens Emily Steffens

Police officer and journalist honored for efforts to reduce traffic fatalities.

Posted: Oct. 25, 2018 10:03 AM
Updated: Oct. 25, 2018 10:11 AM

MANKATO, Minn. – Two southeast Minnesotans are honored for their efforts to reduce traffic deaths and injuries in the state.

At the recent Toward Zero Deaths (TZD) conference in Mankato, Albert Lea Police Lieutenant Jeff Strom received the Education Award and Emily Steffens of Dodge Center was given a Special Award of Recognition.


Front row: Kristine Hernandez Abby Kuschel Karri Hendrickson Lisa Kons Monica Gregerson Emily Steffens MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle Department of Public Health Commissioner Mona Dohlman Back row: Mark Kinde Amy Saylor Richard Sanders Kevin Otto Jeff S

“TZD is a tremendous asset to the state in reducing traffic deaths,” said MnDOT Commissioner Charlie Zelle. “The individuals and organizations honored this year for their work are making a difference to save lives and reduce serious injuries on our roadways.”

Lt. Strom is active in the Freeborn County Safe Roads coalition and conducts quarterly fatal reviews and prepares all crash files for review. He has been a part of TZD enforcement and education for more than 11 years, participating in traffic safety events at area schools, organizing mock crashes and impact speakers for the community, teaching most of the parent component of driver’s education, and helping coordinate monthly child passenger safety clinics.

Steffens was injured in a car cash that left her in a coma for three months. She remains paralyzed on the right side of her body, is partially blind, and suffers from significant memory issues. She has been sharing her life and challenges after the crash and educating people on the importance of seat belt use through a newspaper column called “It’s My Life. Living with Severe Traumatic Brain Injury.”

The Toward Zero Deaths program began in 2003 in Minnesota and organizers say traffic deaths have declined by 45 percent since then.

Also receiving awards at the TZD conference were:

• Kathy Swanson Outstanding Service Award – Mark Peterson, Hopkins
• Child Passenger Safety Star Award – Karri Hendrickson, Maple Grove
• Distinguished Public Leadership Award – Lisa Kons, Cottage Grove
• Enforcement Star Award – Kevin Otto, Maplewood
• Emergency and Trauma Services Star Award – Amy Saylor, Hill City
• Engineering Star Award – Richard Sanders, Crookston
• Judicial and Court System Star Award – Abby Kuschel, Grand Rapids
• Traffic Innovation Award – Bemidji Area Schools

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