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Worker killed at pipeline site near Crookston

CROOKSTON - A driver for a Crookston gravel-hauling company was backed over and killed by another truck from the company early Tuesday at a job site north of Crookston.

The man, 54, had pulled into the Enbridge Pipeline site with a Bertils Gravel and Excavation-owned Mack truck and semi-trailer filled with gravel, said investigator Nathan Rasch of the Polk County Sheriff's Office. The man parked and was walking over to find out where to dump his load.

The man, whose name is not being released until relatives are notified, apparently fell and was run over by another Bertils truck, a 2007 Mack with a semi-trailer and a "pup" trailer behind the main trailer, that was backing up after dumping the pup trailer.

The driver of the second truck was John Bertils, 46, of Crookston.

"It appears like it was just a terrible accident," Rasch said. "The guy backing up (Bertils) didn't see him. A witness said they saw the victim fall. We don't know if he tripped or had a medical condition."

The investigation is not complete, but it doesn't appear anyone will be cited, Rasch said.

The victim was pronounced dead at the scene by a crew from the Crookston Ambulance Service, which responded to the call that came in at 8:33 a.m.

There will be an autopsy, Rasch said.

The site, about two miles north of Crookston on the west side of U.S. Highway 75, is fenced in and was wet and muddy.

Larry Springer, senior manager for U.S. public affairs for Enbridge in the corporate office in Houston, said company officials "feel a great deal of compassion and concern for the family of the victim and for their loss. We will be watching with interest as this accident is investigated."

Bertils Gravel is a sub-contractor working for Gowan Construction of Oslo, which is the contractor for Enbridge in preparing the site for expanding the pumping capacity, Springer said.

An owner of Bertils Gravel and Excavation declined to comment.

"We're all like family, so I hate to say anything," said Dan Bertils of Crookston.

The site has been a pumping station for a pipeline for 40 years, and Enbridge bought the system in the 1990s, Springer said. As part of its long-term project to increase its pipeline capacity for moving petroleum out of Montana and western North Dakota oil fields, Enbridge is in Phase 6 of its expansion, Springer said.

Rasch said federal and state officials, as well as insurance company officials, are expected to investigate the incident.


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