(Kiester, Minnesota – January 20, 2012)
A 55-year-old Minnesota Dept. of Transportation snow plow operator was still in the intensive care unit of Saint Mary’s Hospital in Rochester, MN, Saturday, having been airlifted there following a collision between his vehicle and an eastbound Union Pacific freight train at the non-gated crossing of Highway 22 on the southern edge of Kiester, MN around 2:13 P.M. Friday afternoon.
The train struck the southbound plow on the passenger side as Bradley Bruegger, the operator, was helping clear roads following a devastating snowstorm, drifting, icy conditions and sub-zero wind chill factors had closed down many communities Friday morning, carrying the driver and his plow nearly three-quarters of a mile impaled upon the nose of the locomotive before the train came to a stop.
The Minnesota Highway 22 intersection with UPRR tracks is equipped with lights and bells, but lacks crossing gates which might have prevented Friday’s accident.
The 2007 MnDOT single-axle plow was virtually destroyed in the accident, one of hundreds reported in the area including Faribault County after the heavy snowfall.