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Amy Dalrymple, Published July 14 2013

Oil truck crashes into camper, house

WATFORD CITY, N.D. – A Colorado man is lucky to be alive after an oil tanker truck rolled down a hill here late Saturday and pushed the camper where he was sleeping into an adjacent house.

Three employees of oilfield rental equipment business Atigun Inc. were at the house they share in Watford City about 10:45 p.m. Saturday when employee Matthew McDonal heard a loud boom.

McDonal, who was in his bedroom reading, went outside and saw an oil tanker had gone through a camper parked behind the house and thought the worst about his co-worker who had been asleep inside the camper.

“I thought ‘Tom’s gone,’ ” McDonal said.

McDonal woke his supervisor, who was in another bedroom, called 911 and then heard his friend, Tom Netschert, screaming. He went into the garage and found Netschert standing there hunched over after the truck pushed him and the camper through the wall of the garage.

“It was pretty gnarly,” McDonal said. “It’s a miracle he’s even alive.”

After bringing Netschert outside, McDonal looked for the truck driver but couldn’t find anyone. Emergency responders arrived within five minutes and brought Netschert to the hospital. Netschert did not suffer any broken bones and was released Sunday, McDonal said.

Netschert, 45, has been working as a mechanic in North Dakota for about two years to support his wife and kids who live in the Colorado Springs, Colo., area, McDonal said. Netschert was sleeping in the camper because the basement of the house was recently flooded.

The oil tanker was empty and did not cause any fires or explosions, McDonal said. A wrecker removed it early Sunday morning.

This is the second time in less than three years a truck has rolled down the hill toward the house and office of Atigun Inc., which is on Watford City’s Main Street near a busy corner where U.S. Highway 85 makes a 90-degree turn.

Truck drivers often park at the top of the hill and walk across the street to the Kum & Go convenience store, McDonal said.

Tire tracks are still visible from the last time a truck rolled and stopped right before hitting the house, said supervisor Corky Barlow.

The driver of the truck from Saturday’s incident stopped by the house Sunday morning and was shaken up, McDonal said. The driver said he put the parking brake on, McDonal said.

A dispatcher for the McKenzie County (N.D.) Sheriff’s Office and Watford City Police Department said she did not have any information about the incident and officers were not available Sunday to take media calls.

McDonal said he keeps replaying the crash in his mind and still can’t believe his co-worker did not have more severe injuries. Netschert planned to fly home to be with family.

“It’s absolutely a miracle,” McDonal said.

Dalrymple is a Forum News Service reporter stationed in the Oil Patch.

She can be reached at adalrymple@forumcomm.com

or (701) 580-6890.