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State Patrol investigating crash involving Stearns Co. deputy

The deputy was attempting to make a traffic stop at the time.

An attempted traffic stop in Stearns County turned in to a nasty collision for a local sheriff's deputy on Friday night.

Fortunately, the deputy, Sergeant Steven Noetzel, was able to escape injury, as was the other driver.

According to a news release from the Stearns County Sheriff, Noetzel was in the middle of making a U-turn to pull someone over in Cold Spring when a 2011 Chevy Malibu slammed into his marked cruiser.

Both the deputy and the 24-year-old driver of the Chevy were checked for injuries at the scene and released, the sheriff's department says.

The two vehicles took serious damage, and the Chevy ended up off the road (see photos below).

Whether any criminal proceedings are possible is unclear, but the release says the Minnesota State Patrol is investigating the crash.

Data shows that car crashes are a major occupational hazard for law enforcement, with the Bureau of Labor Statistics saying that motor-vehicle incidents make up 41 percent of all fatal workplace injuries for police officers. 

Other major government institutions agree. 

The CDC says car accidents are "a leading cause of line-of-duty deaths for law enforcement officers in the United States," and according to a 2011 study by the U.S. Department of Transportation, of the 3,963 law enforcement deaths between 1980 and 2008, over 1,400 involved motor vehicle crashes.

The study also shows that such fatalities have been on the rise since the end of the 1990s, while fatal violence against police officers (such as homicide) has decreased over the same time period. 

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