RENVILLE - A 37-year employee of the Southern Minnesota Beet Sugar Cooperative died of injuries he suffered in a workplace accident at 2:50 p.m. Thursday at the plant in Renville.

Erv Knuston, 60, of Sacred Heart, was struck by a payloader while outside in the pellet loading area, according to information from the company.

Visibility was poor due to the cold weather and steam vapors in the area when the accident occurred, the company said in the statement. A third party contractor owned and operated the payloader.

Knutson was employed as a crane operator with Southern Minnesota Sugar Cooperative.

“We are stunned and deeply saddened by the tragic and unexpected death of our co-worker and friend, Erv Knuston,’’ stated Company President and CEO Kelvin Thompsen in the statement.

He described Knutson as a loyal employee, and said Knutson’s co-workers are grieving his loss. “Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends during this very difficult time - there is no greater loss than the death of a loved one.’’

Thompsen said the company will work closely with local law enforcement and the Occupational Health and Safety Administration in the investigation of what oc-curred.