L’ANSE, Mich. (WJMN) – One man has died, and another person was hospitalized after a semi-truck veered off of US-41 and crashed into the gas pumps of the Holiday Gas Station, killing one man then crashed into the gas station itself just after 11:00 p.m. Thursday night. The crash caused a major fire that consumed the entire property. Troopers from the Calumet Post were dispatched to the scene according to Sgt. Gary Salwey.

“Our troopers on scene began further investigation and discovered a tractor trailer had ran off the road up into the Holiday Gas Station parking lot, struck a vehicle that was pumping gas, continued further colliding into the Holiday Gas Station,” said Sgt. Salwey.

The victim, identified by Lake Superior Performance Rally officials as 43-year-old Al Dantes Jr. of L’Anse was transported to Baraga County Memorial Hospital, where he was later pronounced dead. A father of 6 girls, Dantes was a member of the L’Anse Area School Board and was running for a seat on the Baraga County Commission. Dantes was set to compete in the Lake Superior Performance Rally Championship Series where he was leading his class in points. Former teammates and fellow racers all said Dantes was not only a good friend and a great competitor, but he was always the first to come to the assistance of anyone in need.

Santiago Iglesias knew him well.

“He was there in his truck in front of us,” said Iglesias. “Full of people helping some new team out, showing them the ropes and we’re just laughing and a joking around. That was less than 24 hours ago. Big ol’ smile on his face like he always had.”

Fellow driver Robert Kassel rode with Dantes in past races.

“Larger than life,” said Kassel. “He was this immense character and everybody knows Al. No one has a negative story about him. Like, there’s always a memory, there’s really no one like him, his presence on media, his presence just at rallies, and he’s always having a good time.”

A Holiday employee was also transported to the hospital for injuries sustained from the crash. A Holiday store patron, as well as a trainee who was a passenger in the semi-truck at the time of the crash were not injured.

The driver of the semi-truck, a 22-year-old Illinois man, is lodged in the Baraga County Jail for Operating While Intoxicated, causing death and expected to be arraigned on Monday.

The crash shut down portions of US-41 well into the morning hours. Michigan State Police are continuing to investigate.