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Wisconsin blizzard deaths: man dies beneath roof collapse, another struck by snowplow

HUDSON, Wis. - St. Croix County recorded two deaths Saturday tied to heavy snowfall in western Wisconsin. An elderly Woodville man was killed when he was struck by a municipal plow and a rural Hudson man died after the roof of a livestock shelter collapsed, pinning him beneath.

Clifford M. Larson, 79, of Woodville, was blowing snow at the end of his driveway at 2:15 p.m. when he was backed into and struck by a Village of Woodville plow truck, operated by Steven E. Nygaard, 56, of rural Baldwin.

The accident remains under investigation by the St. Croix County Sheriff's Department and the Wisconsin State Patrol.

At 7:26 p.m., Saturday, authorities were alerted to a man trapped by the collapse of a livestock shelter roof, burdened by the day's heavy snowfall.

Kenneth Swanson, 58, owner of Plainview Stables & Outfitters in the town of Troy, was pronounced dead by the St. Croix County medical examiner, according to Lieutenant Mike Winberg.

River Falls firefighters and ambulance personnel responded along with several sheriff's deputies.

Plainview Drive is west of CTH F, about a mile north of CTH MM and about five miles south of Hudson.

Funeral arrangements for Mr. Swanson are pending with the O'Connell Family Funeral Home of Hudson.

Swanson and his wife, Cheryl, operate the stable on 83 acres near the St. Croix River bluff, according to information on a UW-RF Animal & Food Science web page describing area horse boarding facilities.

Stable offerings also include riding instruction, riding trails, heated indoor arena and outdoor arena with pen and heated box stalls.

Winberg said Saturday's heavy snow and high winds made responding to emergency calls a real challenge. His four-wheel drive patrol vehicle got stuck at least three times on county roadways. Winberg said every officer on patrol had to freed by a wrecker at least once.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation and State Patrol reopened a 160-mile stretch of Interstate 94 mid-morning Sunday, 18 hours after it was declared closed because of numerous stuck semi-rigs and hazardous conditions.

On Sunday afternoon, the DOT was still urging no unnecessary travel.

"Dangerous wind chills, and white-out conditions in open areas, along with the snow and ice covered roads will continue to make driving very difficult," officials noted.

Steve Dzubay is a reporter at The River Falls (Wis.) Journal, which is owned by Forum Communications Co.