Collision with Bemidji drunk driver puts police Duluth investigator in hospital
A Bemidji man with a record of driving while intoxicated was charged Wednesday with driving drunk again while the veteran Duluth police investigator whose vehicle he is accused of hitting Monday remains hospitalized with a serious brain injury.
Duane Klynn Porter, 25, was arraigned on six charges as a result of the collision early Monday at the junction of Mesaba Avenue and Rice Lake Road: criminal vehicular operation causing great bodily harm while under the influence of alcohol, criminal vehicular operation resulting in substantial bodily harm while under the influence of alcohol, driving while impaired, driving after suspension, failure to stop for a traffic control signal and failure to use a seatbelt.
Police Investigator Don Boso, who is scheduled to retire April 5, remains hospitalized with injuries sustained in the crash.
St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin is prosecuting the case. He said that because the victim is a police officer, he felt a responsibility as the head of his office to personally handle the case.
Rubin issued the complaint against Porter and attended the arraignment before Judge Mark Munger. Rubin declined to comment on the case, but provided an update on Boso's condition.
"The full extent of his injuries are unknown, and that includes whether there will be permanent damage," Rubin said. "He has an injury to an eye, a subdural hematoma with some brain bleeding and some possible damage to his liver."
An attending physician determined that the brain injury is very serious and has the potential "to go either way," meaning it could resolve itself either naturally or through surgery, or it could kill the victim.
Duluth police public information Officer Jim Hansen said Boso is "very well respected by his supervisors and peers." Hansen and Boso worked as patrol partners in Lincoln Park for several years.
"He's always been a steady, hard-working guy and a great partner," Hansen said. "The only people that may not have cared for Don were people that broke the law. He was methodical in his approach to putting together a solid case for prosecution."
Boso came to the Duluth Police Department from the Crosby (Minn.) Police Department in 1991. He became an investigator in the special investigations unit in 1998. In 2004, he transferred to the property crimes unit. In 2006, he was named the department's investigator of the year.
According to the criminal complaint:
A motorist reported to 911 at 6:10 a.m. on Monday that she had seen a white minivan driving in the wrong lane on Sixth Avenue East. About 10 minutes later, that vehicle, driven by Porter, reportedly ran a red light at the intersection of Mesaba Avenue and Rice Lake Road crashing into a 2010 Ford Fusion owned by the city of Duluth and being driven by Boso.
A witness said the light turned green and Boso started forward with the witness driving a vehicle behind Boso. He said the investigator was about 20 feet into the intersection when he was "T-boned" on the left side by a minivan. The witness' vehicle then struck Boso's vehicle from behind.
Officer Jeff Keast arrived on the scene and said he smelled Porter's breath and person emitting a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage.
When asked where he was coming from, Porter said he could not remember. When asked where he was going, he said he was going to continue partying. When asked how much he had to drink, he responded, "Not enough."
When medical personnel arrived, Porter became combative with fire department personnel and paramedics. He was transported to St. Luke's hospital, where a blood test was administered over his objection. The results of the blood test are pending.
Police investigator Ryan Morris said there were no skid marks to indicate Porter or Boso braked before the crash. Boso was wearing a seatbelt; Porter was not. An investigator found three unopened 24-ounce cans of Steel Reserve malt liquor inside Porter's vehicle.
Morris interviewed Porter at the St. Louis County Jail on Tuesday. Porter acknowledged that he had been extremely drunk, rating himself as being a
7 or 8 on a scale of 1-10 as to how drunk he was.
The investigator wrote in his report that Porter expressed a great deal of concern for Boso and said, "I need to stop drinking. I need to get help." Porter told the investigator he started drinking alcoholic beverages when he was 11 years old.
Porter's criminal record includes convictions for driving while intoxicated, hit and run, careless driving, tampering with a motor vehicle, possessing stolen property and driving after revocation. He is scheduled to appear in Beltrami County District Court on April 1 on a driving after revocation charge.
A probation officer with Arrowhead Regional Corrections denied Porter supervised release. Porter is being held in the St. Louis County Jail on $60,000 bail.