Grand Marais trucker says he is ‘lucky to be alive’ following crash on the Gunflint Trail
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Grand Marais trucker says he is ‘lucky to be alive’ following crash on the Gunflint Trail

A local truck driver says he is “lucky to be alive” following a single vehicle accident on the Gunflint Trail in Grand Marais.

The driver, 23-year-old Grand Marais resident Damian Zimmer, was hauling a load of dirt in a truck around 9:15 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 20, when a transmission failure caused the accident. The truck, a 1974 Green Peterbilt TK, crashed into the woods near the intersection of County Road 7 and the Gunflint Trail, across the street from the Cook County Law Enforcement Center.

Zimmer spoke with WTIP Oct. 25 about the accident. He said a failure with the truck’s transmission led to the accident. The truck first lost the ability to slow down near the water tower on the Gunflint Trail. It then barreled toward town with Zimmer behind the wheel, but without the ability to slow down. As it continued to gain speed, Zimmer exhausted the options he had to slow the truck, knowing it would eventually come to a crashing halt, he told WTIP. After the truck jumped the curb about 200 ft. above the intersection of the Gunflint and County Road 7, Zimmer leapt from the moving vehicle. The truck then violently crashed through timber, slicing through a stand of balsam before grinding to a stop in a marshy area of the woods.

The truck is totaled, Zimmer said.

“If I would have stayed in the truck, I for sure would have died,” he said.

Zimmer sustained a broken wrist, bruised jaw and injured his foot in the crash.

“I’m basically sore all over,” he said.

No other vehicles were involved and there were no other injuries reported in the crash.