BRAINERD, Minn. - A driver was briefly hospitalized after crashing into an unexpected object on a central Minnesota roadway late Sunday.
The Crow Wing County Sheriff's Office says squads were dispatched around 9 p.m. after reports of a crash on County Road 3 by The Woods Restaurant. Responding deputies found that a Brainerd resident in a minivan had struck a large, round hay bale that broke loose from a trailer. At least three other hay bales were in the road nearby.
KARE 11's Kent Erdahl spoke to the driver, 75-year-old Gene Lafavor, on Monday. Despite going to the hospital, Gene Lafavor says he was released after being checked out for bruises and a sore neck. Both he and his wife, Sheryl Lafavor, say they feel lucky to be alive.
“I firmly believe that if it wasn’t for the Lord God we wouldn’t be here, we’d be on a slab someplace," Gene Lafavor said. “It wasn’t like it was in front of me, it was coming at me. It just appeared in the windshield and then bang, we just stopped dead."
Gene Lafavor said he was driving with cruise control and didn't have time to hit the brake before the collision.
“(The bales) weigh somewhere between 1,200 and 1,500 pounds. It's like running into a moose at 55 miles an hour," he said. “We’re blessed.”
Investigators are trying to find out who may have been driving the truck or hauling the trailer the bales fell from, and are asking anyone with information to call 218-829-1844.
“It would be nice if they would come forward,” Gene Lafavor said.