Man loses part of arm in snowblower accident



A rural Princeton man was in fair condition Tuesday at North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale, following a tractor-mounted snowblower accident.

Pete Kronbauer Jr., 78, lost part of his right arm in the March 5 accident at his rural Princeton home.

“It was a plain and simple accident,” Kronbauer’s daughter Florence Dehn said by telephone Tuesday from the hospital. Kronbauer is a man who is always adamant about safe practices, Dehn said.

The accident occurred at about 3:30 p.m. on Tuesday, March 5.

Florence’s husband Arlen received a call from Kronbauer stating  that he was about to clean up the snowblower and put it away. Minutes after that call, Kronbauer went into his house with a bloody stump of a right arm to make a 911 call. The snowblower had ripped off his right hand right above the wrist.

After making the 911 call, Kronbauer went back outside to sit on the front steps and wait for the ambulance so as not to leave a lot of blood in the house, Arlen Dehn said.

Princeton firefighter Jim Langenfeld, a neighbor, heard the 911 call and went over to help Kronbauer. Fire Chief Jim Roxbury arrived shortly after. They applied a tourniquet to Kronbauer’s arm. A trooper with the Minnesota State Patrol and two Princeton police officers arrived, as well as a North Ambulance ground crew. With police cars out front escorting the ambulance east on Highway 95, the entourage transported Kronbauer to the North Air helicopter station at the Princeton airport where he was loaded into the helicopter and transported to North Memorial.

Princeton Police Officer Arnie Soden, who responded to the scene with Investigator Todd Frederick, said the firefighters took Kronbauer’s detached hand and placed it into a bag. The officers rebagged it to send along down to North Memorial.

But the nerves in the detached hand and wrist were dead. Doctors decided it would do no good to try to reattach the hand because it wouldn’t have functioned, Florence Dehn said.

Doctors, during the evening of the accident, amputated more of Kronbauer’s damaged lower arm to make a clean stump. The arm now ends halfway between his elbow and what would have been his wrist, Florence Dehn said.

Kronbauer was kept in an intensive care unit until Monday and then moved into a regular room.


How the accident


Kronbauer  was using a broom stick to clean something out of the snowblower, when the broom stick broke, Florence Dehn said. Dehn thinks her father then slipped and fell into the machine.

Arlen Dehn noted that Kronbauer had to have a couple stitches below his nose. Florence Dehn said the upper part of Kronbauer’s right arm was broken in two places and that the right shoulder was dislocated during the accident. Medical staff relocated the shoulder the evening of the amputation.

“It’s been tough on Florence, tough on the whole family,” Arlen Dehn said.

Florence Dehn said she is thankful for the quick response of the first responders and also thanked everyone who has been praying for her father and are continuing to pray for him. She said  her father’s condition has been stabilized but he still has a long recovery ahead with no plans yet for when he would be discharged.