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WDAY: The News Leader

Published June 20, 2013, 06:05 PM

Lisbon man died after being swept away by floodwaters

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Tragedy just north of Gwinner, North Dakota today. Family says 48-year-old Jim Materi of Lisbon was coming home from the Bobcat Plant when floodwaters on Highway 32 swept him off the road.

By: Kevin Wallevand, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Tragedy just north of Gwinner, North Dakota today. Family says 48-year-old Jim Materi of Lisbon was coming home from the Bobcat Plant when floodwaters on Highway 32 swept him off the road.

Search and dive teams worked most of the day to recover the truck and Materi's body.

Just north of Gwinner, a frantic effort to find Jim Materi. Dive teams from Richland County, Fargo and Wahpeton arrived to come up with a plan for the rescue. But the rescue turned to recovery.

But the problem exactly where in Dead Colt Creek was the pickup and Jim Materi's body. The creek, normally a trickle of water, raged alongside highway 32. It was here where Jim was driving early today going through water on 32 when he was swept into the ditch and into a fast moving torrent of water. He called for help on his phone.

Travis Paeper, Sargent Co. Sheriff: “He was trapped, unable to swim, couldn’t get the windows down. Gwinner was here right away but as they got there the vehicle went down.”

We talked to the family of Jim Materi. Francis says he talked to his brother as he left Bobcat and was on the highway. His brother tells him he was glad he took the pickup instead of the car because of water on the road. But when Francis tried reaching his brother a few minutes later, the call went to voice mail.

Mary and Douglas Jansen live right next to where Jim Materi went it. They watched helplessly as the truck went it.

Mary Jansen, Witness to Accident: “You could see he slid over and into the ditch and floated down and the cab sunk a little bit, but then it went on back and further down and it disappeared.”

Douglas Jansen, Witness to Accident: “He had taillights on. The battery worked. You think he would have been able to get the windows down.”

For several hours, the dive teams worked to locate the pickup and Jim Materi. A drive he made on this road daily ending tragically after a cruel summer storm.

At the Bobccat Plant in Gwinner, high water flooded part of the production area. Bobcat says workers were given the option of leaving early this morning because of the water coming into Bobcat.

And West of Gwinner on Highway 13, a DOT project was swept away. Fortunately no one was injured and no car drove into the gaping washout.

The culvert was not blown out but all the dirt and gravel was sent into nearby fields.

Kevin Gorder, ND DOT: “We were in the middle of putting in new pipes and we had a gravel surface where the pipes were and the water came up and washed the gravel away so we are back to the bottom of the pipe and starting over so.”

The DOT has re-opened highway 32. Highway 13 between Gwinner and Oakes remains closed.

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