Dump truck collides with train in Grandy

Emergency personnel began moving injured driver Lief Frauendienst, requiring the crew to lift the stretcher between two train cars to reach the LifeLink helicopter. Photos by Greg Hunt

By Rachel Kytonen

A privately-owned dump truck crossing the railroad tracks on the north side of Grandy collided with a Burlington Northern Sante Fe train late morning on Monday, Jan. 30.

The Isanti County Sheriff’s Department received the call involving a personal injury accident at 10:57 a.m. The accident occurred at 369th Ave. NE, just to the east of Hwy. 65 in Cambridge Township.

According to the sheriff’s department, the driver of the truck, Lief James Frauendienst, 28, of rural North Branch, was heading westbound on 369th Ave. NE when he came to a stop at the railroad crossing. Frauendienst did stop at the stop sign and saw the northbound train coming, but proceeded through and was struck by the train.

CFD Fire Chief Sean Okerlund (in red & white jacket) and another CFD firefighter take one last look at the twisted dump truck after the driver was airlifted from the scene.

The train was reported to be travelling at 46 miles per hour. There are not any crossing arms at this location, but there are clearly-marked signs indicating there is a railroad crossing.

Frauendienst was conscious and alert when he was extricated from the truck and transported via helicopter to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. He was reported in serious condition at HCMC as of late Monday afternoon.

“He was partially out, sitting up on top, but his legs were all pinched in there, so we just spread the frame and cut him out,” described Cambridge Fire Chief Sean Okerlund.

The accident forced emergency personnel to detour Hwy. 65 traffic around the scene on Co. Rd. 6.

“Given the situation at hand, everything went as well as it could,” said Isanti County Sergeant Chris Caulk. “We had good communication with the helicopter, as well as with all the emergency responders. Much credit should be given to Cambridge Fire and Isanti County Safety & Rescue for their work with the extrication.”

Sgt. Caulk said most emergency responders cleared the scene around 12:30 p.m., but representatives from BNSF railroad remained on scene. Sgt. Caulk said the train was carrying 39 train cars.

“I’ve seen a few train versus truck collisions and sometimes there isn’t any damage to the train, but there was significant damage to the train at this scene,” Sgt. Caulk said.

The collision occurred at 369th Ave., just east of Hwy. 65, near Grandy.

Motorists are reminded to be extra cautious at railroad crossings.

“Make sure you spend time at railroad crossings, especially  at those without any crossing arms,” Sgt. Caulk said. “Be vigilant, and if you see a train crossing, wait for the train to go by before you cross the tracks. The train may look like it’s going slow, but they travel at high speeds, and the train has the right-of-way.

Sgt. Caulk said approximately 20 emergency responders arrived on scene. Responding to the scene included the Isanti County Sheriff’s Department, Isanti County Safety & Rescue, Minnesota State Patrol, Braham Police, Cambridge Police, Cambridge Fire and Minnesota State Patrol Commercial Vehicle Inspectors. The accident remains under investigation by the Isanti County Sheriff’s Department.