Sheriff David Hutchinson “lucky to be alive” after alcohol-related accident

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Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson is “lucky to be alive” and is recovering from numerous injuries after crashing his SUV in presumably intoxicated western Minnesota, his son said Thursday. attorney.

The wreckage overturned around 2:30 a.m. Wednesday about 5 miles east of Alexandria on Interstate 94, state patrol said.

Hutchinson said in a statement the next day he was returning from the Minnesota Sheriffs Association winter conference at the Arrowwood Resort and made the “inexcusable decision to drive after drinking alcohol.”

Sheriff’s attorney, Fred Bruno, told the Star Tribune that Hutchinson was “not too bad, not too well” physically and would stay at AlomereHealth Hospital in Alexandria, Minn., “For a few more days” then that he is being treated for three injuries. ribs and head and hip injuries.

Hutchinson did not respond to repeated requests for comment.

“The state patrol said he was lucky to be alive,” Bruno said. Hutchinson was wearing his seat belt at the time, the patrol said.

Authorities collected a urine sample from Hutchinson to test his level of intoxication. Bruno, who spent several hours with Hutchinson in hospital on Wednesday, said he expects the results to show the sheriff was too drunk to drive under state law.

The Douglas County District Attorney’s Office will likely use the results to weigh the charges against Hutchinson, 41.

“I anticipate that a criminal indictment decision will be made based on these results early next week,” County District Attorney Chad Larson said Thursday.

Bruno declined to say where Hutchinson was drinking in the hours leading up to the crash, citing the ongoing patrol investigation.

Since Hutchinson had been drinking and possibly suffered a concussion in the crash, “he was acting very strange at the scene,” Bruno said.

In his statement, Hutchinson said, “I will immediately resolve my personal problems with alcohol and seek the help I need to continue serving the people of Hennepin County.”

Bruno declined to reveal details, but said “these measures are in place” regarding Hutchinson’s difficulty with alcohol.

Citing the growing challenges facing law enforcement officials in the Twin Cities and elsewhere in the country, Bruno said: “They are under unprecedented stress. This is not an excuse but an explanation.”

Hennepin County District Attorney Mike Freeman also admitted to having alcohol problems in May 2019. He took nearly three months of leave to undergo alcohol treatment and returned to work. In September, Freeman announced he would retire at the end of his term.

Hennepin County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Andy Skoogman said Hutchinson, as an elected official, is not subject to any disciplinary action by the county in the same way as a deputy or a county employee.

State Patrol posts many serious accidents on its publicly accessible Critical Incident webpage, consistently within hours of occurrence. The disclosure of Hutchinson’s overthrow on this page, however, took significantly longer.

The sheriff’s crash was published on the webpage 11 and a half hours later, after press releases from the State Department of Public Safety and Hutchinson were sent in quick succession more than 10 hours later.

One soldier who responded knew the Hennepin County Sheriff was the driver “within an hour of the crash,” said Bruce Gordon, chief spokesperson for the DPS.

There were four other bodily accidents listed on the site, including the names of people in the vehicles, which occurred after Hutchinson’s on Wednesday. All four were posted 2.5 hours or earlier after the incidents.

“It is not unusual to post a crash on the media web hours after the incident as more information becomes available,” Gordon said.

He said Hutchinson did not undergo a preliminary breath test at the scene to measure intoxication.

With the option of taking a urine or blood sample from Hutchinson in the hospital for an alcohol test, a state soldier chose the urine, Gordon said. Many lawyers and law enforcement professionals consider urine samples to be less accurate than blood samples at detecting alcohol levels.

Gordon said that “both are accurate, meet legal standards for determining DWI, are accepted by the courts, and are commonly used by law enforcement agencies statewide.”

Hutchinson is in his first term as sheriff. He beat titular Richard Stanek in 2018 by over 2,300 votes out of over 525,000 votes.

Bruno said he believes Hutchinson can still run successfully for re-election in 2022.

“It is rather appreciated by the base [in the Sheriff’s Office] and the community, ”said Bruno. Since taking office, Hutchinson has changed policies involving immigrants and implemented changes in the way inmates are treated, such as providing treatment for opioid addiction.

“This is a unique transgression in a career that has been long and unblemished,” the attorney said. “I hope the public understands this.”

The four-day sheriff’s conference began on Sunday, but Dakota County Sheriff Tim Leslie said he only saw Hutchinson on Tuesday. He said the conference was a great training opportunity and a chance “to hear what sheriffs are up to”.

This year’s conference had many guest speakers on incidents involving agents. It also featured awards and installation ceremonies for officers.

Tuesday night a band performed and there was a cash bar from 10:30 p.m. to 11:30 p.m. Nightly encounters are where the best information is exchanged, said Bill Hutton, executive director of the Sheriffs Association and former Washington County Sheriff.

Neither Hutton nor Leslie would say if they had seen Hutchinson at the event. They said there were several reception halls, a lot of people and that the event took place over a relatively short period of time.

“It takes a lot to recognize that you have a problem,” Hutton said of what happened to Hutchinson. “I hope he can do something about it.”


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