Weather Forecast


Update: Railroad worker rescued after being pinned under grain car in Willmar BNSF yard accident

Willmar rescue and law enforcement personnel work on the rescue of a rail employee Thursday morning at an accident scene in the BNSF Railway yard in Willmar, Minn. The injured employee was extracted from the accident scene about 11 a.m. this morning and airlifted to a trauma center. Tribune photo by Ron Adams

Update 3 p.m.

WILLMAR -- Emergency responders used hydraulic jacks to free a man pinned under a 221,000-pound grain car Thursday morning in the BNSF Railway yard in Willmar.

The man, described as in his mid-30s, suffered severe injuries to his legs, according to a statement delivered near the scene of the incident by Willmar Ambulance Service Operations Manager Brad Hanson. The man's name has not been released and officials declined to give further information on his injuries.

The ambulance service, along with the Willmar fire and police departments, the Kandiyohi County Rescue Squad and Minnesota State Patrol received a 911 call at 8:52 a.m. Thursday that a man was pinned between two railroad cars.

The responders found that the man was under the grain car, pinned by his legs, and that it was unsafe to roll the car off of him, Hanson said. The crews then called for assistance from Marcus Building Movers of Raymond and Thein Moving Company of Clara City.

The moving company crew members used wood blocks, jacks and a portable hydraulic unit to raise the car off of the man, according to Matt Thein, co-owner of Thein Moving. Meanwhile, a surgical team from Rice Memorial Hospital was also attending to the man.

Rescuers got plywood from Perkins Lumber and portable heaters and assistance from the Willmar Municipal Utilities, Grand Rental Station and Chappell Central to provide warmth to both the victim and the responding rescuers.

The man was freed at 10:53 a.m. and taken from the location of the railcar, which was near the pedestrian bridge over the rail yard, to the waiting Lifelink III helicopter. The helicopter took off for St. Cloud about 11:15 a.m.

Willmar Fire Chief Marv Calvin commended the emergency crews and the private business personnel involved in the incident. "They all worked together to solve the problem," he said, noting that the crews at the scene were in consultation with the Minnesota Task Force 1 rescue team, which is based in the Twin Cities, during the incident.

Calvin also praised the railroad personnel. "They were very professional, we could not have done it without them."

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

(320) 214-4373