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Beet truck overturns, injuring driver and spilling haul

Emergency responders examine the cab of a beet truck that overturned Friday on County Road 5 just west of Grand Forks. The crash sent the truck's driver to the hospital and scattered beets across the roadway. (Andrew Haffner/Grand Forks Herald)

A truck carrying sugar beets overturned late Friday morning just outside Grand Forks, scattering its haul and sending its driver to the hospital.

According to the North Dakota Highway Patrol, the truck was headed north on County Road 5 on a stretch between 32nd Avenue South and DeMers Avenue when it began to swerve. Trooper Cody Neunthal said it appears the truck first veered toward the east ditch before pulling back across the median. The driver, Patricia Obryant, 49, then overcorrected to get back into her lane, causing the truck to skid and eventually overturn nose-first into the east ditch.

Neunthal didn’t know the extent of the driver’s injuries but said she was transported to Altru Hospital for treatment. Bystanders were the first to respond to the crash and provided some early care to the driver before authorities arrived.

The crash left the driver’s legs pinned in the cab, requiring an extraction by the Grand Forks Fire Department. Firefighter Chris Carlson said fire crews removed a window of the truck to access the driver before using rescue tools to free her legs. Once she was taken from the vehicle, the driver was placed in the care of an ambulance crew.

The crash left beets strewn about the road and piled in a heap on the slope of the ditch. First responders blocked traffic on the approach to the crash site to let a plow clear the beets before vehicles could make their way through.

Beet trucks are out in force as local growers are harvesting their crop and hauling it to processors. Carlson said the Friday accident was the first beet truck crash they’d seen this year. Neunthal said crashes aren’t uncommon during harvest but added they’re still not something Highway Patrol deals with very often.

Andrew Haffner

Andrew Haffner covers higher education and general assignment stories for the Grand Forks Herald. He attended the University of Wisconsin in Madison, where he studied journalism, political science and international studies. He previously worked at the Dickinson Press.

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