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Tragic weekend collisions involving potato trucks claim two area lives

Delilah Gay Perala

A New York Mills woman was killed Saturday when her car collided with a truck hauling potatoes.

Delilah Gay Perala, 36, was eastbound on Otter Tail County Highway 142 attempting to cross State Highway 106 in her 2006 Mercury Montego when a semi-truck traveling southbound broadsided her car, according to the Minnesota State Patrol.

Perala was transported to Tri-County Hospital in Wadena, where she was pronounced dead on arrival, according to the State Patrol.

The driver of the truck, Daryl Lewis Trites of Dent, was transported to Tri-County Hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

The accident happened about 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 26 two miles south of Highway 10 where Otter Tail County Highway 142 meets State Highway 106.

According to the Minnesota State Patrol report, Perala failed to yield eastbound on Highway 142 and was broadsided by the truck which was carrying a full load of potatoes.

The victim was ejected from the car, and resuscitation efforts on the scene were unsuccessful.

Trites was trapped in the truck, and was extricated by emergency crews - New York Mills Fire & Rescue, State Troopers, Otter Tail County Sheriff's Office, and Tri-County Ambulance.

Potatoes were scattered throughout the road, and MnDOT was called to clean up the highway.

Fatal accident near Wadena

A second fatal vehicle accident involving a potato truck occurred Sunday, Sept. 27 near Wadena.

Jerome Joseph Hiltner, 60, was killed when his vehicle collided with a potato truck at the intersection of Otter Tail County Highway 75 and 320th Street.

Wadena Fire & Rescue, Wadena Police Department, Minnesota State Patrol, Otter Tail County Sheriff's Office, and Tri-County Ambulance responded to the accident, one mile south of State Highway 29 on County Highway 75. Tri-County Ambulance personnel discontinued life saving efforts at the scene and Hiltner was then transported to Tri-County Hospital where family members were notified.

According to the OTC Sheriff's Office report, Hiltner was eastbound on 320th Street in a 2004 GMC Sierra pickup when he collided with the potato truck, which was traveling north on Highway 75.

The potato truck was driven by Virgil Dean Gilbert, 46, of Motley.

Traffic on 320th Street has stop signs at the intersection of Co. Highway 75; and the truck hauling potatoes had the right of way, according to the sheriff's report.