TIOGA A Michigan man who was installing an underground electric line northeast of here died Monday after hitting a natural gas line, which caused a rupture that led to his death.
A statement from the Mountrail County Sheriff's office identified the man as Thomas Chojnacki, 30, of Posen, Mich.
Chojnacki was working for Avenia, installing underground electrical lines for Mountrail-Williams Electric Cooperative when his plow hit a high-pressure natural gas line belonging to Williston Basin Interstate Pipeline. The line was charged with approximately 650 foot pounds of pressure. Chojnacki, who was behind the plow when the rupture occurred, was thrown approximately 100 feet due to the resulting release of natural gas, and died from his injuries.
Tim Rasmussen, a spokesman for the Williston Basin Interstate Pipeline, said that the incident occurred 8 miles north and 2 miles east of Tioga in a stubble field.
Rasmussen said that, per company regulations, pipeline markers are placed at intervals along the pipeline route, so "the appropriate signs were in place."
"This is an unfortunate incident," Rasmussen said. "Our deepest thoughts, prayers and sympathies are extended to those affected by this unfortunate incident."
Two other workers at the scene were taken to Tioga Medical Center. They were checked and released.
Rasmussen said that the ruptured line is under repair and it should be back in service later today.