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Man dies at Enbridge Pipeline construction site near Crookston


A driver for a Crookston gravel hauling company was backed over and killed by another truck driver from the company early Tuesday at a job site north of Crookston.

Investigator Nathan Rasch with the Polk County Sheriff's Office said the man had pulled into the Enbridge Pipeline site with a Bertils Gravel-owned Mack truck and semi-trailer filled with gravel, parked and was walking over to find out where to dump his load.

Douglas Peck, 54, of rural Crookston, was pronounced dead at the scene after a gravel truck backed over him, the sheriff's office said in a press release. An autopsy by the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office is pending.

The man apparently fell and was run over by another Bertils truck, a 2007 Mack with a semi-trailer and a "pup" trailer behind the main trailer, which was backing up after dumping the pup trailer.

The driver of the second truck was John Bertils, 46, Crookston.

"It appears like it was just a terrible accident," Rasch said. "The guy backing up (Bertils) didn't see him. A witness said they saw the victim fall. We don't know if he tripped or had a medical condition."

The investigation is not complete, but it doesn't appear anyone will be cited, Rasch said.

The victim was pronounced dead at the scene by a crew from the Crookston Ambulance Service, which responded to the call that came in at 8:33 a.m. Tuesday.

An autopsy will be conducted, Rasch said.

The site, about two miles north of Crookston on the west side of U.S. Highway 75, is fenced in and was wet and muddy, which obviously is why Enbridge contracted to have gravel hauled in, Rasch said. The gravel already dumped had not been leveled yet, and the ground on the site is rough and uneven, he said.

Larry Springer, senior manager for U.S. public affairs for Enbridge in the corporate office in Houston, said company officials "feel a great deal of compassion and concern for the family of the victim and for their loss. We will be watching with interest as this accident is investigated."

Bertils Gravel is a subcontractor working for Gowan Construction of Oslo, Minn., which is the contractor for Enbridge in preparing the site for expanding the pumping capacity, Springer said.

An owner of Bertils Gravel and Excavation contacted by the Herald declined to comment.

"We're all like family, so I hate to say anything," said Dan Bertils of Crookston.

The site has been a pumping station for a pipeline for 40 years, and Enbridge bought the system in the 1990s, Springer said. As part of its long-term project to increase its pipeline capacity for moving petroleum out of Montana and western North Dakota oil fields, Enbridge is in "Phase 6," of its expansion, Springer said.

The project involves not adding pipeline but upping the pumping capacity, Springer said.

Enbridge representatives were on the job site Tuesday and the company will do its own investigation of the accident, Springer said.

Rasch said federal and state officials, as well as insurance company officials, are expected to investigate the incident.