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Hastings man dies in backhoe accident

A Hastings man was killed Monday morning, Oct. 22, when a backhoe tipped over and fell on top of him.

A Jordan, Minn., company, S.M. Hentges & Son Inc., was contracted to dredge a drainage pond just across Highway 5 from the Minneapolis St. Paul Airport, said Patrick Hogan, spokesman for the Metropolitan Airports Commission.

Jeffrey Tukua, 46, was driving a backhoe on the project at about 10 a.m. Because of the muddy ground, he was laying down wooden planks for the backhoe to sit on when the machine tipped over on top of him.

Other workers were nearby and called 911 as soon as they saw what happened, Hogan said.

"There was simply nothing to be done to save him," Hogan said. "It is tragic, absolutely tragic."

Airport police and fire departments responded and pronounced Tukua dead at the scene. The incident is still under investigation.

According to his obituary, Tukua was a 1985 graduate of Hastings High School and had worked as a heavy equipment operator for years. He was a member of the 49ers, was an avid card player and loved horseback riding and camping. He and his wife, Becky, had two daughters.