Amtrak train hits semi in Todd County; trucker killed, several on train hurt

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 8, 2013 - 9:19 PM

Several passengers on Amtrak’s Empire Builder were injured in the collision in Todd County Friday.


An Amtrak train struck a semitrailer truck that failed to stop at a crossing in central Minnesota, leaving the big rig’s driver dead and several ­passengers on the train injured, authorities said.

The collision involving the eastbound Empire Builder occurred Friday afternoon at the rail crossing at 317th Avenue in Fawn Lake Township, according to the Todd County Sheriff’s Office.

Killed was semi driver Donald R. Hedlund Sr., 57, of Bemidji, Minn., the Sheriff’s Office said. Hedlund was driving the flatbed truck for Minnesota Limited, of Big Lake, Minn., a pipeline contractor.

Two of the 181 passengers on the train and the engineer were injured and taken by ambulance to Lakewood Hospital near Staples, according to Amtrak spokeswoman ­Christina Lee. One of those passengers returned to the train, while the other remained at the hospital, Lee added.

Several other passengers and four train workers were slightly hurt and treated at the scene.

The train was heading from Seattle to Chicago, when about 2:15 p.m. it hit the truck, which was traveling northwest on 317th, authorities said.

That spot along the tracks is marked with crossbucks and does not have warning lights or crossing arms, Lee said.

The train fell further behind schedule by about seven hours while it was out of service for repairs, according to Lee. No passengers sought alternative transportation, she said.

The train was already running late before the crash, primarily because of congestion along the route and signal problems, Lee said.


Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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