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Authorities considered charges against man found frozen to railroad tracks

Minnesota authorities have decided not to press criminal charges against a 32-year-old Oak Park Heights man found lying on the Union Pacific Railroad tracks just across the St. Croix River from Hudson on a bitterly cold morning in December.

The Washington County (Minn.) Sheriff's Department and Washington County Attorney's Office declined to release reports on the incident in the days after the man was found with his face frozen to the rail at about 9 a.m. on Dec. 11. Authorities said they couldn't release the reports because they were considering charges against the man.

Last week, the county attorney's office said it had decided not to charge the man and made the reports from the sheriff's department public.

According to the sheriff's department, the engineer of a slow-moving Union Pacific train noticed the man lying between the rails and was able to bring the train to a stop 30 yards in front of him.

The train crew reportedly lifted the man off the tracks, put him on the train and continued on to the Wisconsin side of the St. Croix, where they were met by a St. Croix EMS ambulance.

Train crew members said the man's face was froze to the steel rail and that he was extremely intoxicated. The man reportedly said that we wanted to "end it all."

He was taken to Hudson Hospital initially, and then transferred to Regions Hospital in St. Paul. According to a sheriff's department report, he had a blood alcohol level of 0.40 when he was brought in to Regions.

The man eventually told a Washington County investigator that he had left his Oak Park Heights residence on foot at 6 p.m. the previously evening. He brought along a bottle of vodka that he had been drinking from.

"He told me he just decided to end it and (lie) down," Detective Mike Brown of the Washington County Sheriff's Department reported.

Minnesota authorities considered charging the man with a gross misdemeanor under a state law that makes it illegal to put an obstruction on railroad tracks that creates a risk of injury, accident or derailment.

Randy Hanson

Randy Hanson has reported for the Star-Observer since 1997. He came to Hudson after 11 years with the Inter-County Leader at Frederic, and eight years of teaching social studies. He’s a graduate of UW-Eau Claire.

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