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Friday, May 30, 2003

Driver hurt as train strikes truck LIVINGSTON — An eastbound locomotive struck a pickup truck at a crossing west of here Wednesday morning, ejecting and severely injuring the driver, the Montana Highway Patrol reported.

The patrol report listed the unidentified driver's condition as "grave" and said the vehicle was registered in Carbon County.

The train "helper unit," composed of five locomotives, demolished the passenger side of the pickup, scattering parts of the vehicle and other debris as it shoved the pickup 60 yards past the dirt road crossing.

It does not have a barrier.

The driver was taken to Livingston Memorial Hospital and stabilized before being flown to a Billings hospital.

The train was eastbound down a steep grade in an area with a train speed limit of 35 mph, said Montana Rail Link spokeswoman Lynda Frost.

A tape that monitors locomotive speed will be reviewed, she said.

Missoula man presumed drowned A Montana man is missing and presumed drowned in the Lochsa River along U.S. 12 in a remote area near Lowell, Idaho, a spokeswoman for the Idaho State Patrol said Wednesday.

Bryan Opstedahl, 31, of Missoula was alone in his truck but part of a convoy of vehicles, when it plunged into the river on Friday, the spokeswoman said.

The patrol report said the westbound truck drifted off the road and Opstedahl "severely overcorrected," putting the truck over an embankment into the river.

The Lochsa has risen at least 2 feet since Friday, and officials have been unable to recover the truck or even determine if Opstedahl remains inside. The water is too dangerous for divers, the spokeswoman said.

Opstedahl was traveling in a caravan, and witnesses in other vehicles saw him inside his truck as it sank into the water.

St. Regis man killed in accident KALISPELL — A St. Regis man was killed in a logging accident near here Wednesday.

Deputy Flathead County Coroner Dave Lieb said Gyme Kelly, 63, was working on a timber project three miles east of Marion, above Bitterroot Lake.

He said Kelly felled a large tree, which hit a smaller tree that snapped off, striking Kelly in the head. He died at the scene.

The victim's family operates Kelly Logging in Missoula, and Kelly was working with other family members at the time.

Montana speller bows out WASHINGTON — Two-time Montana spelling champion Sean Dennison of Helena misspelled "pizzicato" Thursday and was eliminated from the Scripps Howard National Spelling Bee.

Sean spelled the word "pizzacato." It means a musical term meaning a note or passage played by plucking strings.

The 12-year-old eighth-grader from Helena Middle School earned the right to represent Montana at the national bee by winning the 2003 state bee, held in Butte in April. He also was the state champion in 2002.

Sean was one of 84 finalists who started the third round of competition, which was televised nationally by ESPN.

In the first round, the Montanan correctly spelled "maquillage," which means makeup.

He won a spot in Thursday's Round Three by correctly spelling 19 of 25 words on a written test. The cutoff was 15 correct words.

Sean is the son of Mike Dennison and Sue O'Connell.

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