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Hubbard County employee one of two victims of Thursday crash

Officers photograph the scene of a two-vehicle crash Thursday afternoon in Farden Township. (Sarah Smith/Enterprise)1 / 2
Authorities investigate the cause of a motor vehicle crash Thursday afternoon that claimed the lives of two men, including a longtime Hubbard County employee. The collision caused a two-hour power outage in the vicinity of County Roads 9 and 45 when one or both vehicles struck an electrical power box. (Sarah Smith / Enterprise)2 / 2

A Hubbard County employee was one of two men killed at the scene of a collision Thursday afternoon in Farden Township in northeastern Hubbard County.

Laird Hensel, 47, of Laporte, was northbound on County Road 45 when his 1997 Ford Supercab truck was struck by an eastbound vehicle driven by Eugene McArthur Jr., 57, of Ogema.

McArthur was taken by ambulance to a Bemidji hospital. His passenger, 54-year-old Richard Bunker, of Naytahwaush, also died at the scene. The two victims were ejected from the vehicles, authorities said.

The vehicles collided with such force they ended up in a field and caused a two-hour power outage in northeastern Hubbard County when one or both vehicles mowed down an electrical power box on the intersection.

The cause of the crash is under investigation by Hubbard County and the Minnesota State Patrol, which will be conducting an accident reconstruction.

It occurred shortly after 3 p.m. on dry pavement with relatively good visibility, although snow flurries were blowing across the roadway.

"It's unknown if the northbound vehicle went into the intersection or stopped at the stop sign and proceeded forward," Hubbard County Sheriff Frank Homer said.

"There were no outward signs of drugs or alcohol but tests were performed," Homer added.

The bodies were transported to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office for autopsies.

McArthur was treated and released from North Country Region Hospital in Bemidji. He was driving a 1999 Pontiac Bonneville.

Nearly a dozen State Patrol troopers and deputies from Hubbard, Cass and Beltrami counties responded, along with Leech Lake Tribal Police.

The pickup and sedan involved were both totaled. Electricity was restored to the area shortly after 5:30 p.m.

Officers at the scene called off an air ambulance due to overcast skies, and instead called for a ground ambulance to transport McArthur.

This was the second fatal accident on County Road 9 this year. In May a Cass Lake man died when the vehicle he was driving rolled east of Nary when authorities said the victim failed to negotiate a curve. Three passengers were injured, one critically.

Hensel worked for Hubbard County for 18 years as an environmental specialist.