A 21-year-old man was hit and killed by a freight train early Saturday while he was trying to cross tracks in Meeker County, northwest of the Twin Cities, according to the State Patrol.

The victim was identified as Nicholas L. Phillipp, of Eden Valley, Minn.

About 3:30 a.m., Phillipp tried to cross on foot to the south side of the train tracks on Hwy. 22, north of Hwy. 55, in Eden Valley, when he was struck by a westbound Canadian Pacific train. He died at the scene.

According to Canadian Pacific spokesman Ed Greenberg, the train crew did what they could to avoid hitting him. The crew applied the brakes and blew the horn, but it takes more than a mile to bring the average freight train to a stop, Greenberg said.

At the time, the man had been at the crossing, which has gates and lights to signal when a train is approaching, Greenberg said.

Greenberg said the company's "heartfelt sympathies" went out to the man's family. The Canadian Pacific police will be helping the State Patrol investigate, he said.

Nicole Norfleet • 612-673-4495; Twitter: @stribnorfleet