Bryan Horwath, Forum News Service, Published August 30 2013
Hazen truck driver who struck house in Dickinson may have had heart attack
Identified Friday by the North Dakota Highway Patrol, Robert M. Kilber, 52, of Hazen, was seriously injured when a vehicle he was operating crossed the Interstate 94 median and into oncoming traffic near New Salem on Oct. 14, 2011, according to an incident report obtained from the patrol.
Shortly before noon Thursday, Kilber’s 2005 Ford pickup, for unknown reasons, crossed the I-94 median into its eastbound lanes, proceeded to go into the south ditch, up a hill and into the basement of a home in Dickinson, according to patrol Sgt. Dan Haugen.
A woman and child were present in the home — which, according to city property tax records, is owned by Tyson and Carri Jung — at the time of the crash, but were not injured, according to Haugen. Emergency personnel found Kilber without a pulse.
Robert Kilber’s widow, Delree Kilber, said she was told that her husband may have suffered a heart attack before losing control of his vehicle.
“I don’t think anything is official yet, but I was told by the coroner and the funeral director that they suspect it was a heart attack,” Delree said. “We’re all just in shock right now. He had dropped our youngest son off at school (Thursday morning), came home and read for a while and was heading to Dickinson to check on a semi that he runs before the accident happened. He never made it.”
Stark County Coroner Dennis Wolf said Friday that the official cause of death was “blunt force trauma” due to the impact of the crash, but added the circumstances leading up to the crash were still being investigated. Wolf said a toxicology report could be expected within about six weeks, but no autopsy has been scheduled.
Delree said Robert suffered a severe back injury in the 2011 accident, but said no official cause of that accident was ever listed. On the Highway Patrol incident report, it was stated that “driver 1 (Robert Kilber) did not remember what happened or why he lost control of his vehicle.”
Delree said she and her husband celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary in June and the two had four children.
“He was such a good and caring man,” Delree said. “He loved to fix things. He’s going to be missed by all of us. I know one thing — something must have happened because he would have done anything possible to avoid that house. It’s a blessing that nobody else was injured.”
After responding to the crash, Dickinson Fire Chief Robert Sivak said fire personnel had to partially brace the home because of concerns it could collapse.
“There have been instances of vehicles running into homes in Dickinson in the past,” Sivak said. “I know a few years ago, the Dickinson Rural Fire Department handled a call of a vehicle partially in a home. But to have one like what we saw (Thursday), where the vehicle was almost totally in the structure, I had not seen that before. It was in there pretty good.”