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Man dies in backhoe accident

Contributed photo Mitchell Brethorst of Brandon enjoyed time outdoors hunting bear and deer.

A 35-year-old Brandon man was killed in a construction accident in Barrett Friday afternoon.

Mitchell J. Brethorst was operating a backhoe at the site of the old bus garage in Barrett at about 1 p.m. when a tree fell on the full-swing backhoe, pinning Brethorst in the machine, according to the Grant County Sheriff's Office.

Other members of the construction crew who were working at the facility said that Brethorst was digging around a large cottonwood tree that was being removed to prepare the site for a new bus garage facility. He reportedly had dug on two sides of the tree when the cottonwood toppled over, landing on top of the cab.

Firefighters from Barrett and Elbow Lake, the Prairie Ridge Medical Ambulance and the Grant County Sheriff's Office responded to the scene and determined that Brethorst had died.

Crews worked at the scene for a long time, using chain saws to remove the tree from the backhoe. A semi-wrecker hauled the tree away.

A 1994 graduate of Brandon High School, Brethorst started his own excavating business in 1996.

He and his wife, Diane (Stark), have three children - EmmaLee, 5, Courtney, 3, and Nathan, 16 months. A fourth child is expected in May.

Family members describe him as a loving husband, father, son, brother and friend, who also valued his employees. He was a loyal Minnesota Twins fan who liked to hunt deer and bear, go ice fishing and work in his shop. He also loved relaxing by the lake with family and friends.

He is survived by his wife and children; parents, Skip and Kathy Brethorst of Brandon; and three brothers - Jim of Andover, Kurt of Big Lake and Mike of Barnesville.

A funeral service was held Monday at Grace Lutheran Church in Brandon.

Al Edenloff
Al Edenloff is the news and opinion page editor for the Echo Press. He was born in Alexandria and lived most of his childhood in Parkers Prairie. He graduated with honors from Moorhead State University with a degree in mass communications, print journalism. He interned at the Echo Press in the summer of 1983 and was hired a year later as a sports reporter. He also worked as a news reporter/photographer. Al is a four-time winner of the Minnesota Newspaper Association's Herman Roe Award, which honors excellence in editorial writing.  
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