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SUV strikes moving train in West Fargo; driver arrested on suspicion of DUI

WEST FARGO - The driver of a sport utility vehicle was arrested on suspicion of drunken driving after crashing into a moving train early Monday in West Fargo.

The Cass County Sheriff's Office, which had a deputy near the crossing when the crash occurred, arrested the driver, Christopher Huot, 38, of Moorhead, on suspicion of DUI.

Cass County Chief Deputy Jim Thoreson said Huot told authorities the SUV was going 40 to 50 mph when it hit the train and that he tried to brake and swerve to avoid it.

Huot declined to comment when reached by phone at his office at Minnesota State University Moorhead, where he is a clinical instructor and educator in the Athletic Training Education Program, according to MSUM's website.

University President Edna Szymanski said that because it's a personnel matter, she can't comment on whether the arrest will affect Huot's position at MSUM. She said he taught his classes on Monday.

Huot wasn't hurt in the crash. Both of the vehicle's front airbags were deployed, Thoreson said.

West Fargo Police Sgt. Jason Dura said the Toyota SUV was eastbound in the 500 block of 12th Avenue Northeast when the crash occurred around 2:40 a.m.

The vehicle missed the crossing arm and was n the westbound lane when it struck the train, Dura said.

"He must have been going fairly fast, because there's quite a bit of skid marks before he hit the train," he said.

By the time authorities were notified of the crash and arrived at the scene, the crossing arms were up, and the train was gone, but the heavily damaged SUV remained there, Dura said. Authorities contacted BNSF to inform the railway company that one of its trains had been hit, he said.

"So they're still trying to determine if there's any damage to any of their railroad cars," he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528