BEMIDJI, Minn. — It’s safe to say people were “shook” near the Shooks Town Hall on Tuesday, Feb. 9.
A semi-truck driver who lost control of the vehicle crashed through the building at 35107 Highway 72, about 40 miles north of Bemidji, around 5:45 p.m.
The driver, 64-year-old Russell Jolly, from Winnipeg, Man., was operating a Peterbilt semi southbound on U.S. Highway 72 when he failed to stop at the U.S. Highway 1 intersection and left the roadway.
He careened through the Shooks Town Hall, which was unoccupied at the time.
Jennifer and Eric Johnson, owners of the Hooked on Shooks Bait Shop, were the first to arrive at the scene of the accident.
The couple said the impact shook their whole building, which is located about two blocks down the road from the town hall.
“It sounded like a bomb went off when he hit,” Eric said. “It literally shook our building.”
Eric approached the driver, who after regaining consciousness, gave a thumbs up and then upon looking around asked if he had hurt anyone.
“He didn’t respond right away,” Eric said. “Once he gave me a thumbs up I walked up to the truck and he was saying ‘Did I kill anybody? Is everybody OK?’ and I told him that it was a town hall.”
The Johnsons said as of 9:30 a.m. Wednesday morning, crews had been back on the scene for a couple of hours and were beginning to remove the pieces of the truck from the Town Hall building.
The couple posted a handful of photos on their Facebook page on Wednesday of the accident cleanup.
The semi-truck appeared to be part of the Thomas Wright Transportation Services fleet, a transportation company with a terminal in Winnipeg that specializes in “truckload shipments from the mid-western United States to western Canada,” according to its website.
According to the Minnesota State Patrol, alcohol was not a factor in the accident and the driver was wearing a seatbelt. The cause of the accident has not been released. The MSP accident report noted that conditions were snowy and icy, but the Johnsons mentioned that the roads in Shooks were not slippery at the time.
Jolly suffered injuries that weren't life-threatening. No further information has been released regarding his condition.