The driver of a freight truck from the Twin Cities blamed brake trouble for a collision in a western Wisconsin intersection that killed a passenger in a smaller truck, authorities said Wednesday.

The crash occurred shortly before noon Tuesday in McKinley Township at Hwy. 48 and Polk County Hwy. E, according to the Sheriff’s Office.

Pickup passenger Ricky R. Gauthier, 49, of Radisson, Wis., was killed in the wreck, the Sheriff’s Office said. The pickup driver, Allan J. Seierstad, 75, of Cumberland, Wis., was taken by air ambulance to Regions Hospital in St. Paul and was in serious condition Wednesday night.

The freight truck driver, Ronald J. Ebert, 55, of St. Paul, was checked out at Cumberland Hospital for back pain, said Sheriff Peter Johnson.

According to the Sheriff’s Office:

Ebert, driving for Benchmark Logistics of Minneapolis, was heading south on Hwy. E and struck the pickup on westbound Hwy. 48, between Luck and Cumberland.

Ebert told authorities that “he applied his brakes” while nearing the intersection “and experienced a mechanical problem with the brakes and was unable to stop for the posted stop sign,” read a statement from the Sheriff’s Office.

Both vehicles ended up in the same ditch.

Emergency responders extricated the two men from the mangled pickup. Seierstad was flown to Regions, and an ambulance drove Gauthier to Cumberland Hospital, where he died.

Paul Walsh