On Saturday February 23, 2013 at 6:54 PM, the Meeker County Sheriff’s Office received a report of an accident involving a snowmobile and a train located on the railroad tracks near the 600 block of Parker Avenue East, in the City of Dassel. Meeker County Deputies, Dassel Fire and Rescue, and Gold Cross Ambulance were dispatched.
The initial investigation indicated that two snowmobiles were traveling eastbound along the railroad tracks within the City of Dassel at the same time as an eastbound Burlington Northern/Santa Fe railroad train. 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. The driver of the lead snowmobile, Paul Fenske, 31, from rural Silver Lake, MN, was pulled under the train and was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident.
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 along the tracks. The train was later stopped and is currently being inspected in an attempt to determine which railroad car was involved in the collision. The second snowmobiler, who was an acquaintance of the victim, witnessed the accident, but was not involved in the accident itself and was not injured.
The Meeker County Sheriff’s Office was assisted on scene by the Midwest Medical Examiner’s Office, the Minnesota State Patrol, and representatives from the Burlington Northern/Santa Fe Railroad.
The accident is currently under investigation by the Meeker County Sheriff’s Office and the Burlington Northern/Santa Fe Railroad.