The Minnesota State Patrol says 4 of its squads were hit by passing cars this past weekend. All 4 troopers involved in the crashes escaped serious injury.
Friday, Jan. 10 (9:40 a.m.)
A truck lost control and rear-ended the squad of a trooper assisting another driver on westbound Interstate 94 near the St. Croix rest area.
Saturday, Jan. 11 (12:20 a.m.)
A car crashed into a State Patrol squad, pushing it into another vehicle on the shoulder of Highway 52 in northern Olmsted County. Road conditions were icy at the time of the crash.
Sunday, Jan. 12
Two squads were rear-ended in separate crashes -- one on Interstate 35 near Willow River, the other at Highway 36 and English Street in Maplewood, Minn.
TROOPERS BLAME DISTRACTED DRIVING
Lt. Eric Roeske acknowledges that the roads were slick near the St. Croix rest area when a three-car pileup turned into a four-car crash on Friday morning.
"The trooper was in the patrol car doing paperwork and arranging for a tow truck to respond but the other people were outside," Roeske described. "You can imagine how frightening it would be -- and see a vehicle at highway speeds come out of control, coming right at you."
The car crashed into the patrol car, pushing it several feet while witnesses darted out of harm's way. As for the cause, Roeske points to inattentive driving.
"By the time they realize they need to slow down, it's too late," he said. "Too frequently they lose control, and at that point, everyone is in danger."
Roeske also admitted that it is frustrating to repeat that it is important for drivers to slow down and move over when for flashing lights. Last year, 89 parked state patrol cars were struck.