Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson is suspected of driving while under the influence of alcohol when he crashed a vehicle early Wednesday in western Minnesota, state authorities said.
The rollover wreck occurred about 2:30 a.m. on eastbound Interstate 94 about 5 miles east of Alexandria, where Hutchinson was attending the Minnesota Sheriff’s Association conference.
Hutchinson suffered noncritical injuries and was taken by ambulance to Alomere Hospital in Alexandria, the patrol said.
Skoogman said that Hutchinson, like other elected office holders, is not subjected to any disciplinary action by the county in the same manner as a deputy might be for certain actions.
No one else was in the unmarked Ford Explorer, which is owned by Hennepin County.
The 41-year-old Hutchinson acknowledged in a statement making the “inexcusable decision to drive after drinking alcohol.”
Douglas County sheriff’s deputies responded to the crash scene “and suspected impairment,” according to a statement from the State Patrol that made no reference of Hutchinson’s elected post.
A state trooper obtained a warrant and collected a urine sample from Hutchinson “to determine impairment, which is standard procedure when impairment is suspected in a crash and a person is transported to the hospital,” the statement continued.
Charges are pending based on the results of the sample and a review by the Douglas County Attorney’s Office.
Sheriff’s department spokesman Andy Skoogman said the office will be run by Hutchinson’s command staff and chief deputy.
Hutchinson, who lives in Bloomington, released his own statement acknowledging that he is being investigated for driving under the influence and suffered “serious but non life-threatening” injuries.
“I made the inexcusable decision to drive after drinking alcohol, and I am deeply sorry. As the chief law enforcement officer in Hennepin County, I am held to a higher standard. I regret the choice I made and apologize to the citizens I serve, the staff I work with, and the friends and family who support me.
“I take full responsibility for my actions and am prepared to accept the consequences of my poor decision. I am relieved that no one else was injured in the crash. I will immediately address my personal issues surrounding alcohol and seek the help I need to continue to serve the people of Hennepin County.”
The Sheriff’s Office was alerted by the State Department of Public Safety that it would be sending out a news release about the crash, said agency spokesman Bruce Gordon. Hutchinson’s roughly 140-word statement was released to the media moments later.
County Board Chair Commissioner Marion Greene said in a statement, “I am relieved that no one else was injured in the crash involving Sheriff Hutchinson, and that as far as I know the Sheriff is doing fine. It appears Sheriff Hutchinson is taking responsibility for his serious actions both professionally and personally, and I wish him the best on his steps towards recovery.”
Greene added, “I cannot comment further. I am confident that there will be no disruptions in our public safety services.”
Assistant County Administrator for public safety Mark Thompson, whose office oversees the sheriff, said, “It is unfortunate to hear the sheriff was involved in a crash. Apparently, he suffered some injuries, but no on else was injured. Being a leader in law enforcement is difficult these days.”
Thompson said the Sheriff’s Office has had a record number of health-related issues with deputies this year.
Staff writer Rochelle Olson contributed to this report.