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2 killed in crash

Two Hettinger residents died Monday when the van they were in rear-ended a tractor, according to the North Dakota Highway Patrol. Another person was injured.

At 11:30 a.m. Monday a van driven by Merle Brattvet, 82, of Hettinger came over a hill in a van on Highway 22 south of Dickinson and hit a tractor driven by Clyde Dukart, 61, of Dickinson.

Merle Brattvet and Dorothy Brattvet, 77, died in the crash. Passenger Merilee Brattvet, 45,also of Hettinger, was injured.

Merilee was taken to St. Joseph's Hospital in Dickinson and was transferred to MedCenter One in Bismarck. Dukart was not injured.

Capt. Tony Huck with the North Dakota Highway Patrol in Dickinson said the accident is strange because it appears Merle Brattvet didn't hit his brakes before the collision.

"It was over a hill, but down below the hill a ways where there was plenty of sight-view and area for the van to see the tractor and it just appeared he did not see the tractor and ran into the rear," Huck said. "It doesn't look like he ever hit the brakes."

Merle and Dorothy were wearing their seatbelts and their airbags deployed, according to the accident report. Merilee was not wearing a seatbelt.

Huck said the probable speed difference between the vehicles made the crash worse. The tractor was likely traveling at about 15 mph and the car quite a bit faster.

If the van was moving at a much higher rate of speed the tractor would have been a "slow moving wall," for the van, Huck said.

Attempts to contact Dukart were unsuccessful.

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