Driver with alcohol in system claims life of Aitkin, Minn. hospital ER manager

Around 9:35 p.m. last night, a driver who allegedly had alcohol in his system caused a wreck that claimed the life of Tony Sundholm, the manager of the emergency room at Riverwood Healthcare Center in Aitkin, Minnesota.

According to the State Patrol, 29-year-old Forest Lake resident Peter Sarkisyan was driving a 1996 Volkswagen Jetta westbound on Highway 18 when he blew through a stop sign at the intersection of Highway 65. Sundholm, traveling northbound on Highway 65 in a Ford Fiesta, was broadsided. He was later pronounced dead.

The State Patrol says alcohol was detected in Sarkisyan's system. Sundholm, 47, was wearing a seatbelt, and his airbag deployed.

A post on Riverwood's website indicates Sundholm has more than two decades of experience as a nurse. He again took over management of Riverwood's ER in 2013.

"I enjoyed my past experience in managing Riverwood's emergency department and am happy to be back on staff," Sundholm said. "I grew up in Aitkin and returned to the area over 10 years ago because I enjoy the friendly family atmosphere of this community."

According to the Star Tribune, Sundholm also had extensive experience as a helicopter flight nurse and was a Gulf War veteran. Referring to Sundholm and his wife, a human resources manager for Riverwood named Cindy Hills told the Strib, "Both are just fantastic, wonderful people... They are very near and dear to our hearts."

Sarkisyan suffered serious injuries in the wreck and was taken to a hospital in Mora. A passenger in his vehicle, 27-year-old Seth Millner of Roseville, suffered non-life threatening injuries.

Sarkisyan's criminal record includes multiple driving-related offenses, including driving after license suspension and revocation, inattentive driving, stop sign violation, and speeding.

:::: UPDATE ::::

Chad Cooper, CEO of Riverwood Healthcare Center, sent us the following statement reacting To Sundholm's death:

All of us here at Riverwood are extremely saddened by the tragic loss of Tony Sundholm. He was not only a dedicated and valued member of the Riverwood family, but also an exceptional person, husband, and father. He will be sorely missed by all. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Sundholm family and all those who were blessed to have known Tony and been a part of his life.

Image credit -- Riverwood Healthcare Center

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