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Truck trailer smashed by freight train in downtown Perham

An empty semi-truck trailer was smashed by a 123-car freight train in downtown Perham Friday morning, June 26.

No injuries were sustained by the truck driver or the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe train crew. But the impact of the collision tore the truck trailer apart, ripping the metal and steel trailer open like a sardine can.

The accident occurred about 7:18 a.m., within about 20 yards of Perham City Hall. The eastbound train was carrying 17,000 tons of lignite to Superior, Wisconsin.

The truck driver, whose name has not been released, was unhurt by the accident but visibly shaken and was experiencing breathing difficulty, according to Perham Police Chief Brian Nelson. He was transported to the Perham Memorial Hospital and Home for observation, and will be interviewed this morning by the Perham Police Department.

The Friday train accident was the second Perham railway accident in less than a month.

It is unclear what happened at this stage, but it appears the trailer was disconnected from the truck. The trailer was sitting directly on the railroad tracks, but the driver had pulled the truck itself away from the trailer, and was a safe distance from the collision.

Train conductor Mark Halvorson, West Fargo, said he and the engineer saw the trail about 500 feet from the point of collision.

"I went down to the nose of the engine as a safety measure, to avoid flying debris," said Halvorson, noting that the nose is steel-reinforced. The train engineer immediately called in the emergency, said Halvorson.

The extent of the damages are uncertain at this point. The truck trailer is likely a total loss. The railroad crossing arm, and the electronic control unit mounted by the tracks, was wrecked.

"There is extensive damage to the crossing signal and the tracks," said conductor Halvorson.

"We'll have to investigate the facts, and an investigation is pending," said chief Nelson. "The trailer had become disconnected and it was on the tracks when the train came--that's all we really know right now."

Then truck and trailer was one of about 24 rigs owned by B and M Transport, based in Detroit Lakes. The empty trailer was going to be dropped at Bongards Creameries, which was less than a block from where the accident occurred.

On May 29, a BN-Santa Fe freight collided with a pick-up truck, which was crossing the tracks about a mile east of downtown Perham--killing 67-year-old Larry J Brewer.