Police: Drunk, off-duty trooper crosses median, hits carby Madeleine Baran, Minnesota Public Radio,
Jessica Mador, Minnesota Public Radio
St. Paul, Minn. — Law enforcement officials say an off-duty Minnesota state trooper was intoxicated when he hit a car Tuesday night in Meeker County, Minn.
State trooper Scott Urdahl was driving his pickup truck on Hwy 12 Tuesday night when he crossed the center-line and collided with an eastbound car, State Patrol officials say. The car's driver sustained minor injuries.
Urdahl registered a blood alcohol concentration of 0.112 at the scene, over the legal limit of 0.08.
Urdahl, 40, of Darwin, has been charged with felony criminal vehicular operation resulting in substantial bodily harm, in connection with the incident. According to the criminal complaint, Urdahl also admitted to texting while driving.
"This is disappointing, unacceptable behavior and it will not be tolerated," said Col. Mark Dunaski, chief of the State Patrol, in a statement released Wednesday evening. "This crash demonstrates what can happen when any driver makes poor choices behind the wheel."
The driver of the other car has been identified as 57-year old Carrie Nickel of Litchfield, Minn.
At an early evening news conference, State Patrol chief Col. Mark Dunaski said Nickel is lucky to have walked away.
"Whenever we get called to a crash there is always that concept about who is going to be hurt," Dunaski said. "She suffered injuries which is very very unfortunate but they are non-life-threatening. She was treated and released and we are very thankful for that."
According to the criminal complaint, Nickel's head was bleeding when first responders arrived at the crash scene. She also sustained other minor injuries that were treated at a local hospital.
Nickel did not return messages seeking comment Wednesday night.
Urdahl, 40, has been a state trooper for 12 years.
Law enforcement officials say he has had a handful of other problems during that time.
There was at least one complaint against Urdahl for "misconduct" dating back to 2004. The latest complaint happened earlier this year.
Officials declined to give details on any of the previous incidents.
Dunaski says he is very disappointed by the incident.
"We talk about it on a daily basis. We talk about impaired driving, we talk about seatbelt use, we talk about speed, we talk about distracted driving and how important that is and that is who we are," Dunaski said. "That is what we do and so consequently, when we have an incident, when one of our very own is involved in a situation like that, clearly, it's very disappointing."
The department has placed Urdhal on unpaid status pending the outcome of a criminal and internal investigation.
- Morning Edition, 04/08/2010, 7:35 a.m.
Madeleine Baran is a general assignment reporter for MPR News.