Father's crash inspires trooper to keep roads safe from drunk drivers

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For State Trooper Mitch Elzen, arresting drunk drivers is more than a job.

“It’s a passion to me because my dad was hit by a drunk driver, which has caused a lot of injuries, surgeries, stuff like that throughout his years, and even us siblings growing up,” said Trooper Mitch Elzen.  

His father, Ron Elzen, has been through 25 surgeries since that drunk driver struck him 37 years ago. He still struggles to walk. It’s part of the reason why Mitch Elzen entered the State Patrol to get drunk drivers off the road.

“I don’t want to see another family struggle as far as multiple surgeries, multiple hip replacements, his back is fused, he can’t run, can’t do any jogging, stuff like that,” said Mitch Elzen.  

At the State Patrol’s annual recognition ceremony held Wednesday, dozens of emergency service workers were honored for their heroism and service. Trooper Elzen received the Eagle Squadron Award for arresting 135 impaired drivers last year, the most arrested by a state trooper in 2018.

“Trooper Elzen embodies exactly what we ask what our troopers to do,” said Colonel Matt Langer. “He doesn’t just arrest drunk drivers to arrest drunk drivers. He believes in what he does because he knows he’s saving lives.”  

For Trooper Elzen, it’s about getting drunks off the road.

“There are other ways to get home,” he said. “Don’t just take the easy route as far as jumping in your car and going the four or five blocks or a mile, because we’re going to find you and we’re going to catch you.  It’s just a matter of time before you get caught.”

Elzen told FOX 9 one of the people he arrested years ago, actually thanked him. The man told Trooper Elzen his motorcycle crash and arrest led him to get sober and straighten out his life.