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Snowmobile-train crash claims Silver Lake man

DASSEL — A Silver Lake man died when the snowmobile he was driving collided with a Burlington Northern Santa Fe train Saturday night in Dassel.

The Meeker County Sheriff’s Office said Paul Fenske, 31, was one of two individuals operating snowmobiles traveling eastbound along the railroad tracks within Dassel at the same time as a BNSF train was heading east.

The lead snowmobile lost control and slid into the side of the train, several cars back from the locomotives. The snowmobile became caught on the train and was dragged down the tracks.

Fenske was pulled under the train and was pronounced dead at the scene. Due to the fact that the collision occurred along the side of the train, several cars back from the locomotives, the train crew was unaware of the collision and continued eastbound.

The train was later stopped and is being inspected in an attempt to determine which railroad car was involved in the collision. The second snowmobiler, who was an acquaintance of Fenske, saw the accident but was not involved in the accident itself and was not injured.

The sheriff’s office was assisted by the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office, the Minnesota State Patrol and BNSF representatives. The sheriff’s office and the BNSF are investigating.

—Staff Reports