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Woman killed in crash with tanker at dangerous Highway 75 intersection south of Moorhead

A car and a fuel tanker truck come to a stop in the southeast corner of the intersection of U.S. Highway 75 and Clay County Highway 12 after a collision Tuesday afternoon south of Moorhead. The driver of the car died in the accident. Dave Wallis / The Forum

A woman was killed on Tuesday when the car she was driving was struck by a tanker truck at an intersection south of Moorhead that state officials have pegged as too dangerous.

Authorities didn't identify the victim pending notification of her family, but Clay County Sheriff Bill Bergquist said she was in her early 20s.

At about 1:50 p.m., the car was eastbound on Clay County Highway 12, also known as the convent road or 60th Avenue Southwest, when the driver stopped at a stop sign at U.S. Highway 75 about two miles south of Moorhead, Bergquist said.

According to an account from the truck driver, Bergquist said, the driver of the car then pulled out in front of the southbound tanker truck, giving no chance for the semi to stop.

"It was pretty instant," the sheriff said.

The car's driver failed to yield, according to a news release from the Minnesota State Patrol.

With the small passenger car crumpled against its front end, the tanker drove through the east ditch and into an adjacent field.

The woman was trapped in the car and found dead by emergency crews, Bergquist said. Troopers will identify the victim today, according to the State Patrol news release.

The truck driver - Steven Holten, 51, of Pelican Rapids, Minn. - wasn't injured, and the tanker did not sustain any damage.

Road conditions at the time were dry, according to the State Patrol's report.

It's not the first time a fatal accident has occurred at the intersection. About 40 accidents have led to six deaths there in the past two decades, according to the Minnesota Department of Transportation.

Thomas Lundberg, a design engineer for MnDOT, said the high rates of speed on U.S. Highway 75 combined with the frequent turns from the county road make for a dangerous mix.

"The issue is the high-speed, right-angle type crashes," he told The Forum earlier this month.

To combat the problem, MnDOT plans to build a roundabout at the intersection. Construction on the $1.1 million project is set to begin in early 2011.

MnDOT statistics suggest roundabouts can lessen the chance of a fatal accident by 90 percent and reduce chances of an injury accident by 75 percent.