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Autopsy shows northern Minnesota skier hit by vehicle probably died within minutes

Bjorn Norgaard

DULUTH - The Dundas, Minn., man who was hit by a vehicle while skiing on Lake Superior between Washburn and Ashland on Feb. 20 likely died within minutes of being hit, according to an autopsy.

Bjorn Erik Norgaard was found by a snowmobiler at 8:30 a.m. Feb. 20 after a hit-and-run that probably occurred around midnight.

In a news release Thursday, Bayfield County Sheriff Paul Susienka said a preliminary report from the pathologist who performed the autopsy said Norgaard died of blunt impact injuries to his head, and that he believed death would have occurred within minutes.

Several hours after the body was found, a 16-year-old boy went to police and identified himself as the driver of the vehicle. No charges have been filed, and the boy's name hasn't been released.

In the news release, Susienka said the Sheriff's Office was waiting for results of a toxicology reading from the driver sent to the Wisconsin Crime Lab. However, it will be close to six weeks before the analysis was completed.

Once results are received, the matter will be sent to the Bayfield County district attorney and the Bayfield County Department of Human Services for review and a decision about charges, the review said.

Susienka said Norgaard's parents were briefed on the preliminary cause of death last week "to somewhat ease their suffering because of the enormous amount of incorrect and damaging rumors that have spread through the community." He didn't elaborate on the rumors.

Norgaard had been returning to Ashland using a trail made for the Book Across the Bay cross-country ski and snowshoe race on Chequamegon Bay, which took place the evening before. A 2010 graduate of Northland College, Norgaard was skiing to the home of college friends after watching the event, Clark said. He had planned to ski in last Saturday's American Birkebeiner.

The Duluth News Tribune and the Pioneer are both Forum Communications Co. newspapers.