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MN 86 closed north of Lakefield due to fatal crash, anhydrous spill

An anhydrous ammonia tanker that tipped and leaked chemical into the air caused the Minnesota State Patrol to block a portion of Minnesota 86, two miles north of Lakefield Thursday afternoon.(Brian Korthals/Daily Globe)

10:00 p.m. UPDATE:

LAKEFIELD -- A 44-year-old St. James man is dead after his semi tractor-tanker collided with a farm tractor, entered a ditch and rolled along Minnesota 86, two miles north of Lakefield Thursday afternoon.

Joseph Oliver was driving the 1999 Freightliner semi that collided with a 2008 Case International tractor driven by Jeffrey Lange, 48, of Windom. After impact, the semi entered the west ditch and overturned, trapping Oliver inside. He had to be extricated from the semi.

Lange sustained no apparent injuries in the crash.

State Patrol troopers had both directions of Minnesota 86 blocked north of Lakefield after the crash because of an anhydrous ammonia leak. The tractor was pulling an anhydrous applicator and anhydrous tank, while the semi was pulling a full tank of anhydrous ammonia.

More than an hour after the crash was reported, a white cloud of anhydrous could be seen from at least a half-mile away, and responders were keeping people away from the area.

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Minnesota 86 was anticipated to remain closed overnight, and motorists were urged to find an alternate route of travel.

Minnesota State Patrol Lt. John Ebner said the farm tractor was northbound on Minnesota 86 and, according to investigators, the driver attempted to make a left-hand turn into a field driveway when he was struck by the passing north-bound semi tractor-tanker.

The crash was reported to the Minnesota State Patrol at 1:01 p.m.

"What it appears as of right now is they are going to let the anhydrous bleed off," Ebner said via phone at approximately 3:30 p.m. Thursday. He said there were no evacuations of the area or the city of Lakefield.

"There is a big concern if the wind were to come up and it would go towards Lakefield, but it's two miles away and the concentration would be so minimal by the time it reached (town) that there won't be harm to anyone else," he said. "The fact that they're just going to allow it to bleed off tells me that they don't feel it's a big threat."

The hazardous material undoubtedly made for a risky scene for emergency responders. In addition to the Minnesota State Patrol, the Jackson County Sheriff's Office, Lakefield Fire Department, Lakefield Ambulance and Lakefield Police Department all responded to the scene.

"The only thing first responders can do is to back away from the cloud," Ebner said of the response. "It's almost instantaneous death if they were to get caught in the cloud, and it's a painful death."

The state patrol was also in contact with the state duty officer for hazardous material spills via phone, and someone from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture was already on scene by 3:30 p.m.

Motorists were advised to find an alternate route or follow the detour signs.

Daily Globe Reporter Julie Buntjer may be reached at 376-7330.

4:05 p.m. UPDATE:

LAKEFIELD -- Minnesota 86 north of Lakefield was closed this afternoon and is expected to remain closed overnight as a result of a crash between a tractor and a semi that were each pulling anhydrous ammonia.

Minnesota State Patrol Lt. John Ebner said one person has died as a result of the crash.

The farm tractor was northbound on Minnesota 86 and, according to the state patrol's investigation, the driver attempted to make a left-hand turn into a field driveway when he was struck by a north-bound semi tractor-tanker. The tanker was carrying a full load of anhydrous ammonia, but it was not known if the smaller tank pulled by the tractor was also full.

The crash, reported to the Minnesota State Patrol at 1:01 p.m., caused an anhydrous ammonia leak and chemical cloud along the highway.

"What it appears as of right now is they are going to let the anhydrous bleed off," Ebner said, adding that there were no evacuations of the area or the city of Lakefield.

"There is a big concern if the wind were to come up and it would go towards Lakefield, but it's two miles away and the concentration would be so minimal by the time it reached (town) that there won't be harm to anyone else," he said. "The fact that they're just going to allow it to bleed off tells me that they don't feel it's a big threat."

The hazardous material undoubtedly made for a risky scene for emergency responders. In addition to the Minnesota State Patrol, the Jackson County Sheriff's Office, Lakefield Fire Department, Lakefield Ambulance and Lakefield Police Department all responded to the scene.

"The only thing first responders can do is to back away from the cloud," Ebner said of the response. "It's almost instantaneous death if they were to get caught in the cloud, and it's a painful death."

The state patrol was also in contact with the state duty officer for hazardous material spills via phone, and someone from the Minnesota Department of Agriculture was already on scene by 3:30 p.m.

Motorists are advised to find an alternate route or follow the detour signs.

The name of the person killed in the crash has not yet been released.

Original post: LAKEFIELD - Minnesota 86 north of Lakefield was closed this afternoon and is expected to remain closed overnight as a result of a crash involving an anhydrous ammonia tanker that tipped over and leaked chemical into the air.

Motorists are advised to find an alternate route or follow the detour signs.

More information on the details of the incident will be added as they become available.

Julie Buntjer
Julie Buntjer joined the Daily Globe newsroom in December 2003, after working more than nine years for weekly newspapers. A native of Worthington and graduate of Worthington High School, then-Worthington Community College and South Dakota State University, she has a bachelor's degree in agriculture journalism. At the Daily Globe, Julie covers the agricultural beat, as well as Nobles County government, watersheds, community news and feature stories. In her spare time, she enjoys needlework (cross-stitch and hardanger embroidery), reading, travel, fishing and spending time with family. Find more of her stories of farm life, family and various other tidbits at www.farmbleat.areavoices.com.
(507) 376-7330
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