Rice County Sheriff Troy Dunn confirmed that the snowmobiler who died yesterday morning is 37 year old Chad VanZuilen of Dundas, a local father of two and Northfield Firefighter. Dunn said VanZuilen was southbound in the ditch along Hazelwood Avenue near 62nd St. Adding, “that it appears he struck a culvert and was ejected from the sled and then it appears the sled landed on him at some point. The blizzard conditions were pretty significant”. Northfield Fire and Rescue spotted his snowmobile, “and started to dig him out”. Deputies and other personnel then responded. Dunn said there were a number of things working against First Responders getting to him including the wide search area between Webster
Township and Northfield. VanZuilen was reported missing around 2 o’clock yesterday morning, he was discovered nearly 2 hours later. Dunn said, “obviously I think there was some trauma involved. We won’t know until we get the autopsy back but it could be weather related too”. He added, “our heartfelt sympathy goes out to the friends and family of him, especially as he’s another public safety person that we’ve worked with many times, including myself, and it’s never easy to lose a loved one but it’s especially hard when it’s a firefighter/public safety worker that we work with so closely”. VanZuilen was also well known in the hockey community. He was just recognized for having 5 years of service in NAFRS. He was a Utilities Operator at the City of Northfield. A gofundme page has been set up for his two young boys. click on the link. Media-Release-022419-Snowmobile-Fatality1
A help out of the ditch turns deadly
UPDATED with names: A man listed in critical condition succumbed to his injuries last night. At about noon yesterday, Rice County Deputies were dispatched to a medical in Morristown Township. A Good Samaritan (Tyler Nusbaum of rural Waterville) was helping another motorist pull a vehicle out of the ditch on Iona Avenue. The two men were using a tow strap when the receiver hitch from the good Samaritan’s vehicle broke. The partial hitch and trailer ball propelled towards the 33 year old victim’s truck. It broke through the rear windows of the topper and truck and struck the man in the back. He was treated at the scene and transported to District One Hospital and later to HCMC where he passed away. Sheriff Dunn said, “we knew it was very, very critical and it’s unfortunate that the helicopter was not able to fly but I don’t know if it would have made a difference in this case anyway”. The victim’s name is Travis Pineur of Morristown. Media-Release-022419-Mtn
Before venturing out south of Owatonna and into Wisconsin, check 511mn.org. At 11am, I-35 was still closed from Owatonna to Iowa and parts of I-90.
Expensive tow to get 5th wheel out of ditch
The large trailer that sat in the ditch between Hwy 3 and the frontage in Northfield road since February 6th was finally pulled out last Friday. Northfield Deputy Chief Mark Dukatz said the State arranged for the tow. Duke said, “it’s going to cost him a ton because they had to call someone in with a loader to move all the snow”. They had to have someone who had a front end loader with a 5th wheel plate so they could get down underneath the trailer to hook it up and pull it out. The State Patrol was on scene for traffic control. Glenn’s Towing out of Faribault is storing the trailer until the owner pays up.