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Former mayor was lying on driveway when Wright County deputy ran him over, officials say

The deputy was responding to a medical call and didn't see him, the sheriff's office said.
Harry Welter resize

The former St. Michael mayor who was killed after being hit by a sheriff's deputy was on the ground when he was struck, the Wright County Sheriff's Office said on Monday

At about 7 p.m. on Dec. 23, Deputy Dustin Hatzenbeller, 37, was responding to an "unknown" medical call on the 400 block of Main Street North in St. Michael when he hit Harold "Harry" Welter. 

According to the sheriff's office's update, the deputy arrived and "did not see the victim on the ground in the unlit driveway," adding Hatzenbeller pulled in and "made contact with the victim at slow speed causing injury."

The State Patrol's report was updated on Monday to state that Hatzenbeller had pulled into the driveway to confirm the address of the call for medical aid, and that Welter was lying in the driveway with a medical condition when the deputy ran over him with his 2018 Ford Explorer. 

Hatzenbeller "immediately" provided aid until paramedics arrived. Welter was taken to the hospital in Maple Grove, where he died a short time later. 

Welter was a lifelong resident of St. Michael and had a long history of public service. He was a firefighter with the St. Michael Fire Department for 23 years, the city said in a statement, a city council member from 1977-87, and then mayor from 1987-91. In addition, he was an active member of the St. Michael Lions Club for 50 years, and offered to clean the Great River Regional Library at the Colonial Mall for free in the early 2000s.

"The Wright County Sheriff’s Office offers their deepest condolences to the family and friends of the victim," the sheriff's office said. 

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Hatzenbeller has been with the sheriff's office since September 2020. He's currently on paid administrative leave. 

The Minnesota State Patrol is investigating the incident, with the sheriff's office noting it and Hatzenbeller are "fully cooperating."

The State Patrol's report said road conditions as snowy and icy at the time of the crash. Hatzenbeller, of Otsego, was wearing his seatbelt and wasn't hurt. No alcohol was involved. 

Note: The details provided in this story are based on the law enforcement's latest version of events, and may be subject to change.

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