Glenwood farmer walks away after combine hit by train

Matt Laubach was able to walk away after his combine was hit by a train Saturday afternoon south of Glenwood. It was the second mishap to happen to him in less than 48 hours. The day before, he and his daughter tested positive for COVID-19.

Matt Laubach was able to walk away with only a bruise on his leg after the combine he was driving was hit by a train south of Glenwood on Saturday. Just the day before, Laubach tested positive for COVID-19, making for a quite a crazy few days. Contributed / Matt Laubach

GLENWOOD — The past few days will be ones to remember for Matt Laubach, 44, of Glenwood .

Not only did he and his school-age daughter test positive for COVID-19 , but around 12:36 p.m. Saturday Laubach was uninjured when the combine he was driving was hit by a Canadian Pacific Railway train.

"It has been a ride," Laubach said on Monday, two days after the nearly unbelievable accident took place. He said the only injury he sustained from the accident was a bruise on his leg.

The event took place at the rail crossing on 200th Street near Minnesota Highway 55 , just southeast of Glenwood.

Laubach said he had gone out to the field to harvest corn, but ended up having trouble with one of the row units on the machine. Figuring it needed to be looked at, he decided to drive the combine back to the farm, crossing the tracks, something he does several times a day.


He looked and didn't see a train coming so he entered the crossing. Seconds later the combine was hit by something big.

"The train was behind the combine," due to the angle of the intersection when he stopped to look, Laubach said. "I couldn't see it."

According to the press release from the Pope County Sheriff's Office , the train, heading westbound, hit the rear left side of the combine as it crossed. The impact caused the combine to spin around, its corn head hitting the train. The combine then came to a stop, facing the track, giving Laubach a good look at just what had hit him.

A freight train struck a combine Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, near the intersection of Minnesota Highway 55 and 195th St. in Glenwood Township, Minnesota. According to social media, the driver of the combine survived the crash. Contributed Richard Larson

"The first thing I thought was, 'that was stupid,'" Laubach said, who wished he had taken a few extra seconds to look more closely down the train tracks before deciding to cross. "You get busy in harvest and that is when mistakes are made."

A passersby who saw the accident helped Laubach out. One called in the accident, while another, who just happened to be a first responder, checked on both Laubach and the train engineers. No one was hurt. The press release said, in addition to the sheriff, the Glenwood Fire Department, Glacial Ride Ambulance , Canadian Pacific Railway and the Minnesota State Patrol responded to the scene.

A freight train struck a combine Saturday, Oct. 9, 2021, near the intersection of Minnesota Highway 55 and 195th St. in Glenwood Township, Minnesota. According to social media, the driver of the combine survived the crash. Contributed Richard Larson

Luckily, Laubach has insurance for the combine and access to a second combine, so he'll soon be back in the fields, finishing up this year's harvest.


"We'll fight through, we always do," Laubach said.

Of course, at the same time, he is also fighting off a coronavirus infection. Laubach said last week his daughter was sent home from school because she was a close contact with a positive case. On Friday, both she and Laubach started having symptoms and took a quick at-home COVID-19 test, which unfortunately came back positive for both of them. Saturday morning, Laubach took a second test at a local health care provider and that, too, came back positive.

Laubach hadn't been vaccinated prior to being infected. In another twist of fate, he had an appointment set to get his first shot on Friday, the same day he tested positive.

Thankfully, both Laubach's wife and their son have tested negative for COVID-19. He said their daughter is doing better, as is he. He just hopes there are no more surprises coming his way for the time being.

"The Lord likes to challenge us," Laubach said.

Shelby Lindrud is a reporter with the West Central Tribune of Willmar. Her focus areas are arts and entertainment, agriculture, features writing and the Kandiyohi County Board.

She can be reached via email or direct 320-214-4373.

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