Smart, funny, and laid back -- that's how friends of Derek Bute are remembering him, one day after his death.
"He was a very funny guy, real goofy, relaxed, calm, laid back. Like I said, he had this personality that drew others to him, said friend Jake Klaver.
25-year-old Bute was raised in Alden, just west of Albert Lea. He had a bright future that was cut short early Sunday morning, after he was hit and killed by a train on Winona's huff street.
Police tell us a witness watched as Bute tried to sprint across the tracks to beat an oncoming train, and tripped, falling onto the tracks.
Canadian Pacific railway says the train crew sounded the horn, but Bute could not get off the tracks in time.
"I don't like to talk about it, because I start to fall apart when I think about it, you know,” Klaver said, choking up. “You don't want to text somebody, 'hey, did you hear what happened?' Of course we all heard what happened."
Klaver has fond memories of Bute. They had been friends for about three years, he says.
"We met in the gym at Winona State and then started working out together. And he was always there, to help for a spot or to encourage, and he was a very active individual,” said Klaver.
So active, Bute was an exercise major with dreams of becoming a Physician's Assistant. He was an army medic with the Minnesota National Guard.
His big goals and big personality. Make his death all the more difficult to bear.
"His smile. He had a very contagious smile. It would always brighten up the room,” Klaver said.
Funeral arrangements for Bute have not yet been released. Friends may be organizing a vigil for him sometime this week.