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Blizzard behind weekend crashes, injuries

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Poor visibility, icy roads and other adverse weather conditions contributed to several accidents over the weekend in Otter Tail County. 

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Many injuries were reported as a result of the accidents, but no fatalities.

The Otter Tail County Sheriff’s Office said the worst crashes took place Sunday afternoon, at the height of the weekend blizzard. 

Following is a summary of accidents from Friday through Sunday, Jan. 24 to Jan. 26.

Man burned after stuck  vehicle catches fire

Leon Eilers, 73, of Underwood, was airlifted to a specialty burn unit after suffering third-degree burns in a vehicle fire on Sunday.

The sheriff’s office said Eilers became stuck in his vehicle in rural Underwood and called for a tow at 9:46 a.m. While waiting in the vehicle, it caught fire by unknown means.

A passerby noticed the vehicle on fire and saw Eilers inside struggling. The passerby pulled Eilers to safety, called 911, and waited for emergency responders.

Eilers was transported to Lake Region Hospital in Fergus Falls, where he was reported to have suffered third-degree burns over multiple extremities and parts of his body. He was later airlifted to a specialty burn unit.

Head-on crash on Highway 27

A head-on crash at the height of the blizzard, at 4:28 p.m. Sunday, occurred along County Highway 27, north of Fergus Falls. 

The accident involved a Jeep and a Chevrolet Suburban, said Sheriff’s Lt. Matt McGuire.

Three people in the Jeep were injured. The driver, 38-year-old Brent Hieronimus of Fergus Falls, sustained a leg fracture. Two youths, ages 4 and 9, had minor injuries.

The driver of the Suburban, 55-year-old Wayne Preston of Fergus Falls, was uninjured.

McGuire said Preston had stopped to help pull a third vehicle from the ditch and was attempting to drive around that rescued vehicle when he was struck head-on by the Jeep.

Limited visibility was a factor in the accident. 

Driver injured in Dalton area accident

On Friday, sheriff’s deputies responded to a report of a two-vehicle accident on County Highway 35, north of Dalton. 

One vehicle was heading south when the driver, 65-year-old Delbert Glanzer of Alexandria, Minn., lost control due to ice and entered the northbound lane. His vehicle struck another vehicle, driven by Annette Trudeau, 50, also of Alexandria. 

Both drivers lost control and ended up in opposite side ditches. Both vehicles were totaled. 

The sheriff’s office said Trudeau was taken to Lake Region Hospital in Fergus Falls, where she was evaluated for minor injuries. Glanzer was cited for failure to drive with due care.

Other weekend accidents

There were about five accidents along Interstate 94, in southwestern Otter Tail County, over the weekend.

Other weekend accidents, with no serious injuries, took place at Highway 8 and 535th Avenue, northeast of Perham; Highways 75 and 10 near Bluffton; Highway 35 and 155th Street near Dalton; Highway 10 and 460th Street northwest of Perham; Highway 10 and 470th Street north of Perham, near Little Pine Lake; Highway 4 near Lake Lida, northeast of Pelican Rapids; Highway 82 and Tumuli Road, northwest of Dalton; Highway 210 and 138th Avenue west of Fergus Falls; Highway 10 and 130th Avenue west of Elizabeth; and Highway 52 and 500th Avenue east of Ottertail.

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