WINONA, Minn. (WCCO) -- The Winona State University community is mourning the loss of a student who was struck by a freight train overnight near campus.
Derek Bute, 25 of Alden, served in the National Guard and served overseas. Friends told our Nina Moini they're choosing to remember his life of service, not the horrible way he died.
"He was a very passionate, just all-around nice person," friend Zach Prough said.
Derek Bute's roommate says his friend dedicated his life to service.
"He believed in serving his country," Prough said.
A National Guard medic, Derek served overseas and then came to Winona state to study exercise science. He would've graduated in May.
"He would try to tell me about all the classes he was in, about biology and chemistry and I honestly couldn't understand any of it. But I could that he loved just learning about it and knowing that he could help people," Prough said.
The tragic end is just setting in for his many friends.
Winona County investigators say Bute fell onto the tracks at the Huff Street rail crossing on the southwest edge of campus near Winona State University at about 1:30 a.m. Sunday. Just about a mile from his home, he was coming home from a night out when a freight train carrying consumer goods en route to Chicago hit him.
A Canadian Pacific train spokesperson said, "It appears the train crew sounded the horn, but unfortunately, contact was made. It can take a train a mile or more to come to a complete stop."
Bute's friends say his tragic last minutes don't define the way he lived his life.
"He definitley led by example. He without a doubt tried be best person he could be," Prough said.
Winona State University called Derek a valued member of their community. Counseling services will be available Monday during regular hours at the school's Wellness Complex.
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