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Mike Nowatzki, Published June 26 2009

Train crashed into empty semi trailer in Perham

PERHAM, Minn. – A train struck an empty semi trailer that became disconnected from its tractor early today in Perham, Police Chief Brian Nelson said.

No one was injured in the crash, reported shortly after 7:15 a.m.

Authorities are still piecing together what happened, Nelson said.

The northbound tractor-trailer was crossing the tracks at Second Street Northeast when the trailer was disconnected for reasons unknown, he said.

“We don’t know if he intentionally had some mechanical problems and disengaged it or if it came loose on its own,” he said, adding the driver had limited English skills.

The trailer was on the tracks with a Burlington Northern freight train approaching. The semi driver got out and waved his arms to try to stop the train, Nelson said.

“But, of course, it takes some distance to stop a fully loaded freight,” he said.

The train struck the trailer, driving it through the cross arm and signal, Nelson said. The trailer came to rest about 75 feet east of the intersection.

The semi driver was “pretty shaken and rattled” and experiencing shortness of breath, so he was taken to Perham Memorial Hospital for evaluation, Nelson said.

Read more Saturday in The Forum.