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State trooper hit while on shoulder of highway

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A state trooper was sent to the hospital after a vehicle crashed into his stationary patrol car on the highway.

According to the State Patrol (incident No. 14405592), the trooper was checking on an unoccupied stalled vehicle just before 3:30 a.m. Saturday. The vehicle was blocking the left lane on eastbound Interstate 94 in Ramsey County, for the ramp that connects to southbound Highway 61.

The patrol car was stopped with its emergency lights activated, the report says, when it was struck from the rear by a PT Cruiser going eastbound on I-94.

The trooper, Jack Tiegs of Oakdale WCCO reports, and the driver of the PT Cruiser were taken to Regions Hospital, where they were treated for minor injuries then released.

The State Patrol says alcohol was a factor in the crash. According to WCCO, it is unknown at this point if the driver – a 46-year-old from Maplewood – will be charged.

State Patrol 'alarmed' by number of incidents

In February of this year, the State Patrol expressed concern about the number of squad cars that had been struck on the side of the roadway.

“Since Jan. 1, we’ve had 13 state patrol squads struck, which is a significant increase from what we would normally see,” Lt. Eric Roeske said at the time.

The incidents include four squad cars being hit in the span of a few days in the Twin Cities area in mid-January, and a three-car accident on I-94 near Highway 55 in Golden Valley Jan. 31 that injured a trooper.

In April, state troopers say a driver looking for music on his cellphone nearly rear-ended one of their squad cars at highway speed.

The Minnesota State Patrol says video (above) of an Easter Sunday incident shows that a driver veered dangerously close to a state trooper's squad car, which was parked at the side of Interstate 35 in Duluth. The trooper had been stopped to assist a motorist with a stalled vehicle near 40th Avenue West.

“What the public needs to realize is that we’re really at the mercy of motorists when we’re on the side of the road,” Roeske said in February.

Minnesota’s Move Over Law, which was implemented in 2006, requires drivers to move over one full lane or slow down when passing stopped emergency, maintenance and construction vehicles.

Two fatal accidents Saturday

The State Patrol says there were also two fatal accidents Saturday morning:

One just after 4 a.m. on westbound 394 and Dunwoody, when a car traveling at "freeway speed" collided with a freight truck that had stalled in the right lane. The driver of the moving vehicle was killed in the crash. Their identity has not been released. The condition of the two people in the freight was not documented.

The other occurred at about 4:45 a.m. on Highway 71 in Hubbard County, when a Dodge Caravan struck horses that were in the roadway. The identity of the driver has not been released.

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