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Sneezing fit causes crash in Highway 38 construction zone

A pair of construction vehicles sideswiped each other early Tuesday morning on the first day of shoulder work on State Highway 38 outside of Mitchell, causing $15,000 in vehicle damage.

Mitchell Police Officer Dan Fechner said the incident occurred after 9 a.m. Tuesday, as a pair of vehicles traveling eastbound came to the construction zone.

Calvin Henry, 57, of Mitchell, stopped at the stop sign at the site. Fechner said Bernard Metz, 67, of Mitchell, had a sneezing fit as he approached the stop sign and swerved as he neared Henry’s stopped 2012 Ford F150 and trailer.

The 2011 Dodge Ram 3500 and trailer Metz was driving clipped the corner of Henry’s trailer before scraping the passenger side of the truck and coming to a stop in front of Henry.

Fechner said the trailer Henry was pulling broke two axles and had $8,000 in damage. Metz’s trailer broke one axle and had $7,000 in damage.

Metz was cited for careless driving. Both drivers were wearing their seatbelts and there were no injuries.

Vehicles are being controlled at the construction site with stop signs and have to proceed through the site in an alternating manner with oncoming traffic.

The South Dakota Department of Transportation started shoulder work in the westbound lane of Highway 38 Tuesday.

The state says the work includes removing concrete curb and gutter and installing slotted drain pipe under the shoulders of the road over the railroad underpass. Work is expected to completed by June 15.