An Automotive History of the MSP

Things Gone Wrong

Every once in a while, one of Minnesota's finest will encounter a little mishap of his own. Unfortunately, although they go through extensive training for the operation of these special pursuit vehicles, one will occasionally get away from them or more likely, they'll be on the receiving end of someone else's poor judgment. Here, I've pictured the results of a few such events.  


State Troopers and other law enforcement officers are injured far too often when they are struck by inattentive or impaired drivers. Be aware and be careful! Yield to emergency vehicles and by all means, slow down and give them some room when they are stopped on the side of the road.


The first couple photos are from a crash involving Joel Brown. Brown was parked on the side of the road on a traffic stop when he was struck from behind. The impact flipped the 1958 Ford patrol car into the ditch, with Brown still inside. Brown is seen holding the measuring tape in the foreground of the first picture. Although he was up and about at the crash scene, Brown suffered back injuries in this crash which plagued him for the rest of his career. The Patrolman at the other end of the measuring tape is Dick Hudson.


1958 Ford Brown Upside Down(1)


1958 Ford Brown Upside Down 2(1)


The next three photos are of a 1959 Plymouth that was driven by Norris Sletten. The description of the event is copied directly from Sletten's crash report from just after midnight on December 19, 1959. The patrol car is vehicle #2 in the description.


#2 had met #1 about 1 1/2 mi N of accident scene. #1 was traveling at aprox 80 mph. #2 turned in pursuit. #2 had attained speed near 100 mph while attempting to get in clocking position. As #2 came over the top of a hill, #1 was parked near a mailbox on the wrong side of the road and began moving in a SW direction. #2 applied brakes but could not pass on left without a rearend smack up so turned to right in attempt to go in W ditch and off SW corner of intersection. The right front fender and bumper of #1 caught the L door and rear panel of #2. #1 stayed on highway and took off southward. #2 sailed off the intersection and out into the ditch SW of the intersection where the right rear fender, gas tank, and front suspension caught hell. The vehicle spun about a little and came to rest on its wheels - no roll over.


As he "sailed off the intersection", the driver's door opened. Sletten credits the use of his safety belt in preventing him from being killed or injured. The crash report indicated estimated damage of $1,000 to the Plymouth. The unit was repaired and returned to duty.


And the other guy? He and his passenger were apprehended within the hour after they crashed into a telephone pole. Both were convicted of DWI.


59600-1,Dec 18-1959






59600 Left(1)



The following series of phots are from an incident in the mid-1970s involving Patrolman Floyd DesMarais. The description of the event is provided by DesMarais' son.


It is amazing that I had a father after that day. (I was in my early teens.)  It is my understanding that Floyd took the ditch to avoid being involved in a crash amongst the subject he was pursuing and an oncoming motorist. It ended tragically with the death of the motorist. My father had taken the ditch once before during this chase and was able to return to the roadway to continue the pursuit. As he saw this crash about to occur, he took to the ditch and you will see that a few pine trees affected his ability to return to the roadway.