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Highway Patrol visible over Memorial Day weekend

Memorial Day weekend is typically one which sees tens of thousands of people on the highways and byways of North Dakota.

And with the increased traffic comes an increase in Highway Patrol presence.

"All the holidays we try to be out and be visible," said Sgt. Will Vance, with the NDHP. "With the holidays, especially with Memorial Day, we always see an increase in traffic."

This year was no different than others, Vance said, but added that doesn't mean there's no call for vigilance.

With the Memorial Day weekend being the "start of summer" there tends to be an increase in the use of alcohol, and by association in incidents of drunken driving, Vance said.

Vance said the final citation numbers for the weekend and other statistics would be available later in the week, but as of Monday there hadn't been any major incidents that he was aware off.

There were, however, two fatal accidents in the state.

A Washington state man was killed in a crash in central North Dakota's McLean County and a Baldwin woman was killed in a crash in Emmons County, about 25 miles south of Bismarck.

The Highway Patrol says 43-year-old Don Coleman of Kennewick, Wash. was driving a sport utility vehicle on a county road when it went in the ditch and overturned in a slough shortly after 1 a.m. Sunday.

Authorities say three passengers in the SUV, from Oregon, Minnesota and Wisconsin, were able to get out of the vehicle and were not hurt.

Coleman had to be rescued from the SUV, and was pronounced dead at a Garrison hospital about two hours after the crash.

In the Emmons County crash the Highway Patrol said 18-year-old Shaundra Mlekoday was a passenger in a car that went out of control on a curve on state Highway 1804.

She died at the scene at about 5:30 a.m. Sunday after being thrown from the car when it overturned in the ditch.

The patrol says the driver and a second passenger were injured and taken to a Bismarck hospital.

On busy holiday weekend Vance said it's important that drivers take the time to be careful when traveling.

"With the increase in traffic, with more motorists on the road, a person has got to always be aware of other vehicles and watch the speeds and avoid any drinking and driving," Vance said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story.