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Driver ignores barricades; car nearly swept away

Sgt. Preston Steele hooks a chain to a car as it balances on the edge of Cass County Highway 22 as water rushes over the gravel roadway Thursday southwest of Harwood. Assisting him in the operation is Spc. Jeremy Kasperson. The soldiers are with the 815th Engineer Company of the North Dakota Army National Guard of Edgeley. Dave Wallis / The Forum

Cass County Sheriff Paul Laney said a Fargo man is lucky to be alive after he drove around barricades and got stranded on a flooded road Thursday near Harwood.

Authorities were called at 12:13 p.m. to Cass County 22, one mile west of Cass County 17.

Sheriff's Deputy Joe Gress said the driver steered the 2008 Toyota Yaris around three barricades before the road began to wash out beneath the car. The driver told authorities he twice tried to back the car out but couldn't, so he fled the vehicle and called authorities, Gress said.

The strong current of floodwaters crossing the road shifted the car "quite a bit" toward the ditch before a National Guard truck pulled the vehicle to safety, Gress said.

"He's just lucky it was the National Guard pulling his car out and not divers pulling his body out," Laney said.

The sheriff's office will recommend the driver, Brad Delzer, 29, of Fargo, be charged with a Class A misdemeanor for defacing, removing or traveling through a highway barricade, Laney said.

The charge is punishable by up to a year in prison and a $2,000 fine.

"He was very apologetic - realized he made a very big mistake," Laney said. "He put a lot of people in danger. Had he been trapped in the vehicle, there'd have to be rescue people going into those waters."

Laney said the county is trying to accommodate drivers and allow traffic on water-covered roads where it's safe, but he stressed that drivers must obey barricades.

"The 'road closed' isn't a suggestion; it's an order," he said.

Gress said the driver told authorities he was headed to Harwood for lunch.