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Fate of accident-prone Dunn County, ND deputy undecided

MANNING -- Dunn County officials have yet to decide the fate of a deputy who caused three automobile accidents in the last 13 months.

Leif Anderson, a Dunn County Sheriff's Department deputy, caused $4,000 in damages to a patrol car last week after he fell asleep at the wheel and swerved into a ditch five miles south of Dunn Center, Dunn County Sheriff Don Rockvoy said via phone during Wednesday's county commission meeting at the courthouse in Manning.

Anderson stood in front of commissioners to explain himself during the meeting.

"I just have the worst luck in the world," Anderson said. "Sometimes it does happen on my shift when I feel tired. I will stop the car and get out and do something about it. In this instance, it didn't happen."

Anderson said it has been a year since he lost control of his vehicle on Highway 22. He veered off the road while looking at his computer screen and his car crashed into a guard rail.

"I totaled the vehicle," he said.

Shortly after his first incident, Anderson tried to pass a vehicle in front of Prairie Implement and Equipment in Killdeer. He said he slid into an approach, causing his vehicle to launch into the air and crash into the ground.

Some county officials consider Anderson a liability.

"I'm not going to jerk you around. I have some real concerns," said Ross Sundeen, Dunn County state's attorney.

Sundeen thinks Anderson's poor driving history poses a threat to other drivers.

"Protect and serve, it sounds more to me like putting people at risk," he said. "What if somebody gets killed on the road because you run into them?"

Some commissioners were also concerned because Anderson did not properly report the accident.

Anderson admits he was nervous to break the news.

"I tried to handle it and be responsible about it, rather than calling (Rockvoy)," he said. "I didn't lie about anything. I documented (the accident), photographed it, I reported it to my partner."

Another deputy also performed a Breathalyzer, Anderson said.

Looking back, Anderson questioned his failure to notify the sheriff.

"I probably made a mistake. I didn't call him right away. He probably sees that as an issue," Anderson said, adding that his relationship with Rockvoy is a bitter one.

A couple county commissioners sympathized with Anderson.

"I worked years and years of shift work on the rigs, and some days it don't matter, you can't stay awake," Commissioner Bob Kleemann said. "I went off the road this year."

Chairman Glenn Eckelberg said he knows how tough it can be to stay awake while patrolling at night.

"You don't have an easy job," Eckelberg said.

Anderson said he has spent the last week thinking about how someone could have died as a result of his driving. He added that he is worried about losing his job, but is also "very thankful" no one was hurt.

"A week is a long time to not know if you're going to be employed," Anderson said.

Rockvoy recently switched deputies to "two weeks on night shift, two weeks on day shift," Anderson added. He thinks the shift change contributed to his most recent accident.

"I would prefer a half a year on nights, and then you'd just switch to days for half a year," Anderson said.

Commissioners said it is up to Rockvoy whether Anderson should be disciplined for his actions.

After the meeting, Rockvoy said he will meet with Anderson soon to discuss the deputy's future.

"We'll be sitting down to discuss the next step," he said.