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Update: Semi driver ID'd, said he swerved for deer in road

This semi-trailer was removed from the scene of a crash on Thursday, May 25, on Highway 35 near the Pierce-Pepin county line. Photo courtesy of Pierce County Sheriff’s Office1 / 4
Pierce County authorities released this image Thursday, May 25, of a semi-trailer crash on Highway 35 south of Maiden Rock. Photo courtesy of Pierce County Sheriff's Office2 / 4
Workers cleaned up flour that spilled from a semi-trailer that crashed and overturned Thursday, May 25, in rural Maiden Rock. The rig was hauling about 44,000 pounds of flour. Photo courtesy of Pierce County Sheriff’s Office3 / 4
A crane hoists flour collected after it was spilled from the trailer of a semi that wrecked Thursday, May 25, on Highway 35 near the Pierce-Pepin county line. Photo courtesy of Pierce County Sheriff’s Office4 / 4

Authorities on Friday, May 26, identified the driver of a semi-trailer that crashed, spilled thousands of pounds of flour in a ditch and affected highway traffic near Maiden Rock for more than 12 hours.

Pierce County Sheriff's Office Chief Deputy Jason Matthys said the driver was 70-year-old LaCrescent, Minn., resident Michael C. Johnson, who was taken to Mayo Health System-Red Wing with non-life threatening injuries.

Johnson was driving a northbound semi carrying about 44,000 pounds of flour that crashed at 6:33 a.m. on Highway 35 at the Pierce-Pepin county line, Matthys said.

A Friday news release states Johnson told deputies he swerved to avoid a deer in the road that caused him to lose control of the semi. The semi overturned and its fuel tanks ruptured but didn't ignite, Matthys noted.

The scene was cleared at 6:55 p.m. according to Department of Transportation data.

Cleanup efforts were handled by Siewert’s Garage, according to the sheriff’s office.

The crash remains under investigation.

Deputies were assisted at the scene by EMS crews from Plum City and Ellsworth, firefighters from Ellsworth and Lund, along with the Pierce County Highway Department.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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