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Paynesville Press - September 26, 2001

Local man dies in ATV accident

LeRoy Schmitt, 30, of Paynesville, died after being thrown from his four-wheeler and hitting a tree early Sunday morning north of Itasca State Park.

According to the Hubbard County Sheriff’s Department, a deputy came upon the accident scene on County Road 3 about two miles south of Becida at 3:55 a.m. on Sunday morning.

Schmitt was pronounced dead at the scene.

Witnesses told deputies that Schmitt and four others from the Paynesville area had left Becida southbound on their ATVs when Schmitt struck a rock, throwing him off the ATV and into a tree. He was wearing a helmet at the time of the accident, but it broke upon impact, according to a friend in the group.

Officers learned that another driver from the party of five was also missing. A half hour later, deputies found Tony Arends, 27, of Paynesville, about six miles south of Becida.

Deputies found Arends trapped under his ATV where he had laid for up to three hours, according to his mother, Angie Arends. Arends was injured after striking a tree and rolling his four-wheeler. He was also wearing a helmet, according to his friend.

The sheriff’s department believes alcohol was a factor in both accidents. The incidents are under investigation by the Hubbard County Sheriff’s Department.

An autopsy was done on LeRoy on Monday morning, reported his mother, Lenore. Results of the autopsy were not known at press time.

Arends was taken by helicopter to the Hennepin County Medical Center, where he is in intensive care with a broken pelvis, collapsed lung, and neck injuries.

"We had encouraging news that he could move his toes and fingers," said his mother, Angie.

Schmitt is a 1990 graduate of Paynesville Area High School. He worked as a trucker for various firms since high school. He owned his own truck and hauled steel for Louis Industries. He loved hunting and fishing.

He is the son of Celestine and Lenore Schmitt of Roscoe. He and his wife, Sonja, have two children.

(His complete obituary appears in our online obituaries.)

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