ST PAUL, Minn. — Hennepin County Sheriff David Hutchinson was intoxicated and driving at speeds of more than 120 miles per hour just seconds before his car went off I-94 and rolled, according to data released Thursday by the Minnesota State Patrol.
The files of the investigation the patrol released included written reports, images of the scene and Hutchinson's Ford Explorer, and audio clips of interviews conducted during the investigation.
Black box data recovered from Hutchinson's Ford Explorer and analyzed by investigators indicates the sheriff was going 126.2 miles per hour three and a half seconds before the SUV left the road and rolled.
Data also showed Hutchinson was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash.
New photos from the scene reflect the horrendous nature of the crash, and show a bottle of liquor in SUV's interior and Hutchinson's revolver laying in the snow outside the vehicle.
A written report from Douglas County deputy Dylan Kriese says when he arrived on the scene and found Hutchinson laying on the side of the road, the first thing the sheriff said when Kriese asked him where he was hurting was that he wasn't driving.
When asked who was, the deputy says Hutchinson responded "I have no idea."
A passerby who had first discovered the crash and Hutchinson told investigators: "He was crawling away from the car in the bottom of the ditch. The first thing he said to me was ‘I wasn’t driving the car’. I said so is there somebody else in there and he said, ‘I don’t know and it’s not my car, I don’t know whose it is’.”
Deputy Kriese then writes that an EMT from North Memorial Ambulance approached him and handed him a set of keys to the Explorer, which were not in the possession of Hutchinson. Kriese states that he believes the sheriff threw them, so the keys would not be in his possession.
A short video clip of Hutchinson in the back of a patrol cruiser also captures him telling a trooper and denying that he was driving the SUV. The trooper was concerned there might be another victim of the crash.
Col. Matt Langer, head of the Minnesota State Patrol, says the initial claim by Hutchinson he was not driving the Explorer at the time of the crash was the basis for the exhaustive investigation.
"At the crash scene, Mr. Hutchinson claimed he was not the driver. The focus of the multi-faceted and collaborative investigation, which included the executed search warrants, set out to determine who was behind the wheel," read a statement from Langer. "That need dissolved with the admission by Mr. Hutchinson that he was driving while impaired."
Hutchinson admitted to driving while intoxicated the day after the wreck, and quickly pleaded guilty to DWI.
"I made the inexcusable decision to drive after drinking alcohol and I am deeply sorry," the sheriff said in a statement posted on social media platforms. "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."
The incident has triggered calls from the majority of the Hennepin County Board for him to resign, something the sheriff says he will not do.
"There is no minimizing or defending the driving conduct and decisions involved in this situation," said Col. Matt Langer, head of the Minnesota State Patrol. "Mr. Hutchinson's decision to drive impaired, at speeds in excess of 120 miles per hour while not wearing a seat belt are the exact opposite of what we know helps to keep people safe on our roads. We are glad the injuries he sustained were not more severe and that no one else was injured."
Also, police records show that about an hour before the crash, a man called a local cab company and asked if there were any bars still open in Alexandria.
The cab company told him the bars would be closed before they could get him there.
The report from the Alexandria Police Department said the phone call was later traced to Hutchinson's phone.
Speaking about an economic plan from the Minneapolis Community and Technical College on Thursday, Gov. Walz and Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan were asked about their feelings about Hutchinson.
"I think most Minnesotans know and most Minnesotans understand that there's consequences for decisions like that, I just wish that he gets the help that
he needs to move on with his life," Gov. Walz said.
Lt. Gov. Flanagan said she is a resident of Hennepin County and that "it's time for him to step down."
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