SAVAGE, Minn. (WCCO) – Savage Police Chief Rodney Seurer points to a mangled Chevrolet Tahoe squad and shakes his head. The vehicle was damaged after being struck by a suspected drunk driver early Tuesday morning.
“We’ve enhanced the lighting, on the outside and the inside,” Chief Seurer said. “We’ve put reflective tape on. I can’t see why a driver wouldn’t see that.”
Seurer is thankful the crash that injured one of his officers wasn’t worse. He’s relieved that police officer Alex Casey was buckled in when he was violently hit from behind.
“I don’t know how much more we can do,” Chief Seurer said.
Early Tuesday morning, Officer Casey was stopped along Highway 13 at Dakota Avenue to protect a disabled vehicle in the turn lane.
Suddenly and without warning, 22-year-old Diante Smith plowed into Officer Casey’s police cruiser in the left rear.
Officer Casey turned his steering wheel sharply to prevent being pushed into the two motorists who were attending to their vehicle in front of him.
“If our officer wasn’t there – the people trying to get their car started – I can’t fathom thinking what might have happened to them,” Seurer said.
Seurer gets emotional thinking of Wayzata police officer Bill Matthews, who was struck and killed by an impaired driver while he was outside his squad removing highway debris last year.
“It just brought back memories of what happened there,” Seurer said. “This happens way too much, way too much.”
It’s another sobering reminder of the state’s recently expanded Ted Foss law. The 18-year-old law requires all drivers to move over and give emergency vehicles – and now highway and utility crews – a lane of safety.
“We just want people to get to their destinations safely,” Seurer said. “We want our officers to be safe too.”
Smith is in the Scott County jail awaiting criminal charges. Officer Casey is at home recovering from his injuries.