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MINNESOTA NEWS ROUNDUP: Woman killed in car-truck crash on icy highway

CLARA CITY, Minn. -- A woman was killed Thursday in west-central Minnesota in a head-on crash with a truck that had jack-knifed on an icy highway.

According to the  Minnesota State Patrol, Debra Griebel, 60, of Marshall, was killed in the crash, which was reported shortly before 9 p.m. Thursday on Minnesota Highway 23, just north of state Highway 7.

A tractor-trailer driven by YaYa Zongo, 39, of Dallas, was going north on Highway 23 and lost control of the vehicle, which jack-knifed and collided with the southbound 2001 Chevy Malibu driven by Griebel. Zongo was not injured.

The patrol report said roads were icy at the time of the accident.


DETROIT LAKES, Minn. -- Thanks to a passing snowplow driver, a Detroit Lakes man was rescued after his sport utility vehicle went into the Pelican River in the Detroit Lakes Industrial Park early Thursday.

Michael John Anderson, 51, was transported to Essentia St. Mary's Hospital. His condition had not been released.

The 1997 Honda SUV he was driving sustained significant damage, said Detroit Lakes police Sgt. Chad Glander.

Anderson was alone in the vehicle, which was eastbound on Eighth Street when it veered south near 11th Avenue and went into the river a few yards away.

At about 12:45 a.m., Detroit Lakes Public Works employee Jeff Leitheiser was plowing Eighth Street, saw the SUV’s tracks and then saw the vehicle.

“As I went by I could see that one window was broken out,” he said.

Law enforcement responded quickly, he said, and when he made his next pass through the area the man was being rescued.

"It's believed the vehicle was in the water for up to one hour," Glander said.

It's unclear how deep the water was in the vehicle or whether Anderson was sitting in water. Foul weather and poor visibility are considered factors in the accident, Glander said.


DETROIT LAKES, Minn. -- A wood-burning stove is believed to be responsible for a fire that destroyed a mobile home and killed several pets Thursday a few miles west of Detroit Lakes.

A young couple, Kyler Groft and Courtney Goettel, lived in the home, along with a child, Goettel said in an email.

The home is owned by a relative who works as a long-haul trucker and stayed there occasionally, according to Becker County sheriff’s Sgt. Shane Richard.

The home is located north of Izzo's bar, on the other side of the BNSF railway tracks that run alongside Highway 10.

Nobody was home at 10:45 a.m. when the fire was reported, and six pets are believed to have died.

Firefighters found the bodies of two dogs and two cats in the home, and two other cats were missing, said Audubon Fire Chief Darcy Savig.

The fire in the older-model, single-wide mobile home was relatively advanced when it was reported by a passerby who noticed the smoke, Savig said.

The fire is believed to have started in a wood stove located in a lean-to addition to the mobile home.


A Bemidji man was killed Friday afternoon when the tractor-trailer he was driving collided with an Amtrak passenger train in Todd County.

Donald Ray Hedlund Sr., 57, was traveling northwest on 317th Street in Fawn Lake Township when he failed to stop at a railroad crossing at Red Rock Road, according to the Todd County Sheriff’s Office. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Hedlund was driving a 2011 Kenworth semi for Minnesota Limited out of Big Lake.

Two train passengers were taken by ambulance to Lakewood Hospital for treatment. The sheriff’s office said several others suffered minor injuries but were not hospitalized.

The Todd County Sheriff’s Office received the accident call at 4:25 p.m. Friday. Staples Fire and Rescue, the Wadena County Sheriff’s Office and Minnesota State Patrol assisted at the scene.


TWO HARBORS, Minn. -- The two crew members injured in Thursday’s derailment of a Canadian National Railway train in Two Harbors remain hospitalized, according to Patrick Waldron, government and public affairs manager for CN in the U.S.

The crew members’ conditions are unknown, but Waldron said neither is believed to have suffered life-threatening injuries. Two other crew members were on the train, but neither was hurt.

Heavy equipment began rolling in Thursday night, and work began to clear the tangle of heavy iron cars from the tracks. The goal for now is to ensure that trains can begin moving again, Waldron said, with the longer-term goal of removing all damaged cars from the site.

The initial cleanup is expected to continue through today. Few details are known, and the derailment remains under investigation.

“A southbound train with 107 iron ore cars derailed as it was coming into the yard,” Waldron said. “Ninety-three cars were derailed -- 76 on the moving train and 17 loaded iron ore cars that were parked in the yard. The 17 weren’t part of the moving train, just parked on an adjacent track.”

It’s unclear how much cleanup will cost.


WILLMAR, Minn. -- A 35-year-old man faces criminal charges after being accused of entering a woman’s home and planting an audio recorder in the residence.

Joseph John Knott made his first appearance Friday in Kandiyohi County District Court on a felony second-degree burglary charge, plus gross misdemeanor counts of stalking and interfering with privacy.

According to the complaint, Knott, for whom no address is given, planted the device and then left voicemails and text messages telling the woman what he had done and that he had heard her conversations on the recorder.

The investigation began when the woman, who had a previous relationship with Knott and had kicked him out of the house, reported to Willmar police Nov. 11 that her home had been burglarized. The woman had changed the locks, but Knott had entered the house, and he had texted her and said he would play the recordings on Facebook, the complaint said.

Authorities said Knott admitted that he had entered the home and put a recorder in the residence, claiming he had not been told he could not be in the house.

Unconditional bail for Knott was set at $25,000. His next court appearance is Dec. 16.