Paul Heinen Injured in Crash with Semi-Truck on MN-7 in McLeod County
Winstead, MN — October 26, 2022, 58-year-old Paul Heinen was seriously injured in a crash with a semi-truck on State Highway 7 in McLeod County.
Authorities say the incident happened around 7:30 a.m. along Highway 7 at Babcock Avenue. Preliminary investigation suggests a semi-truck was headed east on the highway as Heinen's SUV was southbound on Babcock. The exact circumstances of the crash are unknown, but investigators say the two vehicles collided on eastbound Highway 7.
Heinen suffered life-threatening injuries and was taken to an area hospital. The truck driver, 70-year-old James Kalenberg, was taken to another hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.
The investigation continues but reports say both men were wearing seatbelts and impairment is not a suspected factor.
No further information is currently available.
Commentary on Paul Heinen Accident near Winstead
There aren't many details available here, but looking at the mentioned intersection it seems like vehicles on Babcock have a stop sign while those on Highway 7 do not. If investigators determine the victim failed to yield, some may feel there's little else to say. However, that still wouldn't explain why he didn't stop. What if there's more to the story?
For instance: Did the SUV have mechanical or brake problems? Did a medical emergency keep the victim from stopping at the sign? Did something block their view of the 18-wheeler? Was the stop sign present and clearly visible? What were weather and road conditions like? Is there a history of similar crashes in that area? Is the intersection designed poorly? How fast was the truck traveling? Was that driver awake, alert, and paying full attention to the road?
I'm not trying to overcomplicate things here; unusual but critical details are just sometimes overlooked during a "by the numbers" preliminary investigation. For example, in a recent West Texas wreck someone was blamed for running a stop sign and fatally crashing with an 18-wheeler, which was the accepted story for weeks. Crash reconstructionists later found the intersection didn't even have signs at the time because road crews removed them during construction, then didn't replace them. The victim didn't know he had to stop, but until that fact was learned he was unfairly blamed.
I'm not saying that's what happened in Minnesota, just that many crashes aren't as simple as they might appear and crucial details sometimes slip through the cracks. At the very least the victim's loved ones deserve the whole story; will police efforts be enough to get it for them?