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Congressional candidate Sand walks away from plane crash

FARGO -- Duane Sand, the Republican candidate for North Dakota's U.S. House seat, walked away with a minor cut on his forehead after his plane crashed in a cornfield Wednesday south of Jamestown.

Sand was the pilot and only passenger in the single-engine plane, which flipped over after landing in a field after witnesses heard the engine sputter and apparently quit, Capt. Jim Prochniak of the state Highway Patrol said.

Sand left his Bismarck campaign headquarters after 9 a.m. and was en route to Fargo, with a stop along the way in Lisbon, said Matt Dabrowski, his campaign manager.

Sand was piloting a four-seat Cessna Skyhawk 172, which crashed northwest of Nortonville in LaMoure County, about 25 miles south of Jamestown.

Dabrowski said Sand owns the airplane, which he sometimes flies to campaign destinations, but was using it for personal business Wednesday.

Witnesses on the ground near Nortonville heard what sounded like engine problems, Prochniak said.

"It didn't sound like it was acting properly," he said. Sand gave a similar explanation to the owner of the motel in nearby Edgeley, where an ambulance crew took him after the accident.

Although not out of fuel, "He thought it was fuel-related," said Gene Hanson, the owner of the Prairie Rose Inn. "He was attempting to land on a county road that was out there, but he didn't get there."

Hanson, who heard about the crash on a radio scanner and rushed out to the scene to take photographs, said Sand told him he had circled before landing and saw a power line, so decided to land in the field instead of on the county road.

The field was soft from about half an inch of rain that fell the day before, Hanson said. Sand's plane, a 1962 model, was recently refurbished and looked brand new, said Hanson, himself a pilot.

"He wasn't in any joking mood," he added. "He was pretty sad about the whole deal." Sand appeared to have a minor cut on his forehead, he said, but otherwise appeared fine.

Prochniak said Sand was wearing safety restraints, which apparently helped him escape serious injury. Sand's wife, Holly, picked him up Wednesday afternoon and drove him back to Bismarck.

"He was fine," Dabrowski said. "He might have had some bruises. Someone must be on our side to walk away from a plane crash."

Sand issued a statement thanking first responders in LaMoure County - and thanked the Prairie Rose Inn for a good lunch.

"I'm doing fine," added Sand, an Iraq war veteran who serves as a commander in the Naval Reserve. "I'm a better Naval submariner than pilot."

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