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Truck crashes into Grand Forks playground

GRAND FORKS -- The driver of a pickup truck blacked out near a north Grand Forks elementary school and took his truck airborne, crashing into a playground, wrecking it, the sandbox and swing set, only two hours after school was out Tuesday.

Sgt. Kevin Kallinen said police got the call about 5:30 p.m. that a Grand Forks man driving a 1999 Ford Ranger was found injured in his truck on the playground at Wilder Elementary School, which is next to Gateway Drive and North Fourth Street, just west of the Kennedy Bridge.

Based on their preliminary investigation, it appears the truck was westbound on 10th Avenue North, Kallinen said. The driver stopped at the stop sign at the intersection with North Fourth Street, but then accelerated, went over the curb, through the fence around the playground, hit the frame around the sand box, then went airborne and hit the swing set and other equipment before coming to a stop, Kallinen said.

No children were on the playground equipment, but there were two or three elsewhere on the school's playing fields nearby, Kallinen said.

"It could have been a lot worse," he said. "There was a lot of damage to the vehicle."

Witnesses said the man was moving quite fast, and he traveled about 100 yards before hitting the playground, said Kallinen, who has interviewed the man several times.

The man, who Kallinen isn't naming yet, was taken to Altru Hospital.

"He doesn't remember what happened after he got to the intersection of 10th and Fourth Street. "He apparently blacked out. He was just home from work. Alcohol was not involved."

The man's injuries do not appear life-threatening. No charges have been filed against the man, but the accident's investigation continues, Kallinen said.