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Tractor vs. car accidents a reminder

A tragic accident that ended the life of two Hettinger residents on Monday and another crash involving a tractor over the weekend is a reminder to keep an eye out for farm equipment on area roads.

Car vs. tractor crashes occur on average about once every other year and are usually minor, said Capt. Tony Huck, North Dakota Highway Patrol.

However, two have already occurred in less than a week and both resulted in injury or death.

Merle and Dorothy Brattvet died as a result of Monday's crash near Dickinson and Merilee Brattvet was injured. The tractor was rear-ended by the van they were in.

Three people were also injured as a result of a rear-end crash north of Richardton Saturday morning.

Trooper Troy Roth said Lucas Frafford, 19, from Halliday rear-ended a tractor which was driven by Chad Perhus, 31. Both men, along with Nevada Keller, 18, of Dodge, were injured.

"It's very unnerving," said Faith Keller, Nevada's mother.

Nevada was unavailable Wednesday, though Faith said he has been released from the hospital. Frafford declined comment.

"They both had broken left legs," Faith said, adding both men in Keller's vehicle also had cuts on their faces. "He (Nevada) said he remembers so little but they came up over the hill and there it was."

Perhus could not be reached.

Huck said it is legal for farmers to drive equipment on any road, unless area ordinances prohibit it.

He said any vehicle traveling less than 25 miles an hour must have a slow-moving triangle emblem on the rear. Vehicles also must be lit at night, and can't take up more than their half of the road.

Bob Kuylan, who farms west of South Heart, said in a few weeks farm traffic is going to pick up.

"I hope people realize now with this late spring, you know, people are going to be working really long hours once we do get into the field and so they're probably going to be out there at different times of the day than normal, so be careful," Kuylan said.

Huck said it looks as though neither driver in the recent accidents saw the tractors.

"A lot of them are running at that 15 mile an hour speed," Huck said. "So that's much slower and you can close in on them pretty quick if you're not paying attention."

Capt. Lawrence Kitzman from the Stark County Sheriff's Department added warmer temperatures could lead to more traffic.

"It's going to be nice out and people are going to be jumping in their cars and wanting to go for a ride," Kitzman said.

Dickinson ordinance is similar to state regulations, said Lt. Rod Banyai from the Dickinson Police Department.