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Forum News Service, Published August 21 2013

2 hurt in mosquito vehicle-train collision in Grand Forks

GRAND FORKS - Two Grand Forks residents were seriously injured Wednesday morning when the Grand Forks Mosquito Control utility vehicle in which they were traveling collided with a train on the west side of Grand Forks.

Kyle R. Johnson, 28, and Jonathan A. Bartel, 22, both of Grand Forks, were taken to Altru Hospital after the accident, which occurred at 8:36 a.m. at the intersection of 17th Avenue South and the BNSF Railroad tracks, just west of the LM Wind Power plant.

Johnson was reported in critical condition this afternoon while Bartel was listed in serious condition, according to an Altru spokeswoman.

According to a preliminary investigation by the Grand Forks Police Department, Johnson was driving the familiar orange-colored utility vehicle eastbound on the gravel section of 17th Avenue South when the accident occurred.

Police said he apparently failed to yield to the northbound freight train, which was hauling crushed rock or similar materials.

The UTV ended up in a ditch on the east side of the track, just north of 17th Avenue South.

Both victims are employed by the Grand Forks Mosquito Control Program, which is operated by Grand Forks Public Health, according to Kevin Dean, Grand Forks public information officer. The program is funded by both the city of Grand Forks and Grand Forks County.

The name of the train operator, who was not injured, was not immediately available.

The wreckage was cleared from the scene and the road and tracks were opened for traffic at about 12:30 p.m.

Grand Forks police and fire departments and Altru Ambulance responded to the accident. Grand Forks County Sheriff’s Department and other law enforcement assisted with traffic control at and near the scene.

The incident remains under investigation, police said in a news release. Police asks that anyone with information about the incident to call them at (701) 780-8000.