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Beet truck driver critically hurt in crash with train near Fisher

Train, beet truck accident

RURAL FISHER, Minn. -Robert Forsman, 47, was in critical condition when he was transported from Altru Hospital to Minneapolis with injuries from a train-truck collision Thursday morning near Fisher, Minn., a nursing supervisor said.

According to the Minnesota State Patrol, Forsman was driving a tandem-axle truck full of sugar beets north from a field at 7:36 a.m. Thursday about 11 miles east of East Grand Forks, about four miles west of Fisher, Minn., when he failed to stop at a railroad crossing and was hit by a westbound freight train.

Forsman was driving north on 370th Ave. S.W., near the intersection with U.S. Highway 2.

Polk County Sheriff's Deputy Mark Johnson was at the scene this morning and pointed out the Mack truck's cab, pieces of the hood and an axle in the ditch; a pile of beets from the truck were dumped.

The freight train, about three-quarters of a mile long, took about a quarter mile to stop and this morning still had the truck's box wrapped around the front of the engine.

The 66-car freight train was carrying "general merchandise" and pulled by two locomotives, said BNSF spokeswoman Amy McBeth. "it's estimated speed was about 40 mph."

The front locomotive was damaged and repaired on site by a crew by about 2 p.m. and the train moved on, she said.

The crew then repaired the crossing surface and rails and got the track re-opened to traffic by about 6 p.m., she said.

There is no light or crossing bar at the crossing, but railroad "crossbuck" signs on each side, as well as a stop sign on the south side as vehicles are approaching Highway 2, and a yield sign on the north side of the tracks, McBeth said.

No crew members on the train were injured during the collision, she said.

Forsman, from Breezy Point, Minn., was in Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis Thursday.