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An International truck and semitrailer involved in an accident Thursday east of Pennock burns after it plowed through the ditch and stopped just short of the BNSF tracks. Truck driver Steve Syverson, 55, of Kerkhoven, fled the cab before it was engulfed in flames. One of the diesel fuel tanks broke off in the ditch and continued to burn long after the truck fire was out. (Tribune photo by Rand Middleton)

One airlifted from Highway 12 crash near Pennock

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news Willmar, 56201
West Central Tribune
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Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

By Tom Cherveny and Rand Middleton

PENNOCK — A 38-year-old St. Paul man was airlifted to the St. Cloud Hospital with serious injuries following an explosive, head-on collision involving a 2005 Dodge Neon car and a 1999 International truck and semitrailer on U.S. Highway 12 east of Pennock at 11:15 a.m. Thursday.

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Ah Ko, a passenger in the Neon, was airlifted from the scene. A second passenger, Kay Do, 19, of St. Paul, was transported to Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar for non-life-threatening injuries, according to the Minnesota State Patrol report. Its driver, Khee Thoo, 22, of St. Paul, had no apparent injuries.

The driver of the truck, Steven Syverson, 55, of Kerkhoven, was uninjured. He escaped the cab of his truck as it burst into flames after coming to a stop near the Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway tracks that run parallel to the highway at the crash scene near the intersection with Kandiyohi County Road 116.

The State Patrol reports that the Neon was westbound on Highway 12 when the driver lost control of the vehicle and was struck by the eastbound semi.

Syverson told the Tribune at the scene that he was hauling corn when he saw the car weave over the centerline, just missing the vehicle in front of his truck. Syverson said he pulled to the shoulder as far as he dared in an attempt to avoid the collision, which occurred about 200 yards west of the turn-off to St. John’s Lake.

Syverson managed to keep the truck and its cargo upright as it swerved across both lanes, into the ditch and up the embankment before stopping at the BNSF railroad tracks, an estimated 100 yards or more from the impact point.

He said he saw flames and fled the cab, which was soon engulfed.

The collision tossed the engine of the Neon on the south side of the highway in the lawn of the Goldcrest Turkey barns. The dismembered transmission remained 25 yards behind the car body on the highway.

The Minnesota State Patrol, Kandiyohi County Sheriff’s Office and Pennock Fire and Rescue, and Willmar Fire Department, Willmar Ambulance and LifeLink were among the responding units.

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