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Police look into whether bars legally served man hit by train

Preliminary autopsy findings indicate Adam Bertek had a blood-alcohol level of 0.197 percent when he was struck and killed by a train Sunday morning, Moorhead Police Chief David Ebinger said Tuesday.

Preliminary autopsy findings indicate Adam Bertek had a blood-alcohol level of 0.197 percent when he was struck and killed by a train Sunday morning, Moorhead Police Chief David Ebinger said Tuesday.

"That is a very high blood-alcohol content," Ebinger said, stating that if he had that much to drink "I wouldn't be able to stand up."

Ebinger said the findings raise questions about whether any businesses violated terms of their liquor license by serving someone who showed signs of intoxication.

Bertek, a 21-year-old Concordia College student, was killed moments after running out of Mick's Office, a bar in downtown Moorhead.

Ebinger said the investigation will focus on more than one business because Bertek had been to other bars Saturday night.

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"We're going to look at all aspects of this," Ebinger said.

Terry Kragero, owner of Mick's Office, said employees told him Bertek and his friends were at the bar for about an hour.

"He only had two drinks and that was it. They definitely were not intoxicated," Kragero said.

Bertek was struck by a westbound BNSF train seconds after another westbound train had cleared the area, Ebinger confirmed Tuesday.

Early police reports said Bertek was struck by a westbound train after an eastbound train had passed by.

Investigators have since learned the train that struck Bertek was traveling at 30 mph, Ebinger said.

BNSF spokesman Steve Forsberg said Monday the train speed limit where the accident occurred was 60 mph.

Forsberg corrected himself Tuesday, stating the speed limit is 35 mph at that location.

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Moorhead City Manager Bruce Messelt said Tuesday the city is proceeding with construction of safety features to establish a whistle-free zone, but he said the work will not be as elaborate as originally planned, at least not initially.

BNSF officials, he said, have vetoed a plan to line a large portion of downtown track with fencing.

Some fencing will go in, but there will be periodic breaks, a concession to railroad union concerns about how train workers and passengers would escape a wreck, Messelt said.

He said the city will let the matter rest until a quiet zone is established. After that, he said, officials will ask members of Congress to bring pressure on the railroad to allow more fencing.

Forsberg said he couldn't speak to the specifics of the railroad's stand on fencing in Moorhead.

But, he added, "Any time you put in obstacles to try and prevent the public from making a bad decision ... I think you always have to be mindful of whether or not you're also running the risk of trapping people.

"There are limits to how effective fences can be," Forsberg said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Olson at (701) 241-5555

I'm a reporter and a photographer and sometimes I create videos to go with my stories.

I graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead and in my time with The Forum I have covered a number of beats, from cops and courts to business and education.

I've also written about UFOs, ghosts, dinosaur bones and the planet Pluto.

You may reach me by phone at 701-241-5555, or by email at dolson@forumcomm.com
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