Two Deaths Impacted by Snowstorm in Rice County
The Rice County Sheriff's Office reports there were two deaths Sunday impacted by the snowstorm that struck the area. A snowmobile fatality may have been impacted by the poor visibility and a good Samaritan was trying to assist a motorist stranded in a ditch in Morristown Township when the attempt ended in tragedy.
Rice County Sheriff Sergeant Trevor Peterson reported at 1:47 a.m. Sunday deputies were dispatched to attempt to locate a missing snowmobile operator identified as 37 year old Chad Daniel Vanzuilen in rural northern Rice County. Vanzuilen was reported to have left a residence in Webster Township and did not arrive at his destination in Northfield.
Deputies and Northfield Fire and Rescue began searching possible routes to include areas in rural Webster, Bridgewater and Forest Townships. There was poor visibility for searchers. Vanzuilen and his snowmobile were located in the 6000 block of Hazelwood Avenue at approximately 3:45 a.m.
Vanzuilen was transported to Northfield Hospital and was pronounced deceased.
The Rice County Sheriff's Office was assisted by Northfield Fire and Rescue and Northfield Ambulance on scene.
At 12:01 p.m. Rice County Deputies were dispatched to a medical in Morristown Township according to Sergeant Justin Hunt with the Rice County Sheriff's Office. Sergeant Hunt says Tyler Nusbaum of rural Waterville stopped to help Travis Pineur of Morristown Township who had gone into the ditch earlier in the day on Iona Avenue.
The two men were using a tow strap to attempt to free Pineur's stuck vehicle. "The receiver hitch from Nusbaum's vehicle broke while they were attempting to remove Pineur's truck causing the partial receiver hitch and trailer ball to propel towards Pineur's vehicle. The fractured hitch broke through the rear window of the topper and the truck and struck Pineur in the back of the head causing severe head trauma."
Pineur was treated at the scene and transported to District One Hospital in Faribault, then taken to Hennepin County Medical Center by ground ambulance because the helicopter was grounded due to blizzard conditions. Pineur, 33, died from his injuries.
The Rice County Sheriff's Office was assisted by Morristown Fire and Rescue and North Ambulance on scene.