Semi driver dead after collision with Amtrak

By Terry Lehrke, News Editor

A Bemidji man died Friday, Dec. 6, after the semi-tractor trailer he was driving collided with an Amtrak train in Todd County, west of Motley.

About 2:25 p.m., Donald Ray Hedlund Sr., 57, of Bemidji, failed to stop at the crossing on 317th Ave. at Red Rock Road, Section 3, Fawn Lake Township.

Two of the 181 passengers on the Amtrak were taken by ambulance to Lakewood Hospital in Staples and treated for non-life-threatening injuries.

The Todd County Sheriff’s Office said several others reported minor injuries but were not transported.

Amy McBeth of Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railroad said the accident was cleared six hours later.

That, coupled with extreme weather, delayed trains Saturday, Dec. 7.

“With tracks being closed for six hours, when traffic resumes it takes a  while for that to normalize,” said McBeth.

Added to that were issues due to sub-zero temperatuers.

“The weather has been quite extreme and extreme weather creates a lot of challenges,” said McBeth.

Challenges include frozen switches and mechanical issues.

“Our employees work around the clock to keep the railroad running as safely and efficiently as possible, and under all kinds of extreme conditions,” said McBeth. “We certainly saw that with the weather we’ve been experiencing.