Minnesota senator's snowmobile ended up on top of lawmaker in crash involving DNR enforcement chief

Minnesota state Sen. John Jasinski was hospitalized Friday after the snowmobile crash near Brainerd.

A Minnesota state senator's snowmobile landed on top of a fellow senator who had been thrown from his sled in a crash with the state Department of Natural Resources enforcement chief, a DNR report indicates.

State Sen. John Jasinski, R-Faribault, suffered three broken ribs, a broken pelvis and fractured vertebrae from the crash, which happened Friday in Morrison County. He had to be airlifted to North Memorial Hospital in Robbinsdale.

Jasinski was riding just behind DNR Enforcement Chief Rod Smith when he clipped Smith's sled as the two were navigating a left turn, Smith and Morrison County deputy Mark Dzieweczynski wrote in separate incident reports released Wednesday. Jasinski's sled rolled, throwing the lawmaker off his sled.

State Sen. Mark Johnson, R-East Grand Forks, was riding behind the other men. Johnson could not avoid his fellow senator, and his sled "struck Jasinski and stopped on top of him," Smith said in a newly released DNR incident report.

"As I ran towards the two snowmobiles, others in the group where already rolling the snowmobiles apart," Smith wrote. "I could see there was an individual that appeared to have been under the snowmobiles. As I got to the scene I could see the person on the ground was John Jasinski."

Both senators were driving new, demo-model snowmobiles owned by Polaris on a VIP ride during the Minnesota United Snowmobilers Association's Winter Rendezvous. The DNR said it frequently has conservation officers accompany riders at the event.

Law enforcement officials did not test either lawmaker for impairment. Morrison County has closed the case with no charges pending.

New information is only now emerging as public officials seek to clear up conflicting information in earlier statements. Morrison County initially said Johnson rear-ended Jasinski, then said Jasinski was involved in a single-snowmobile crash.

The DNR asked Morrison County to investigate the crash to avoid a potential conflict of interest, a spokeswoman for the state agency said Wednesday.

Dzieweczynski, the Morrison County deputy, said DNR Conservation Officer Stephen Westby briefly interviewed Jasinski in the ambulance and "no detection of alcohol was noted." Westby, writing in his own report, said he had only asked Jasinski for his contact information.

A DNR spokeswoman said that followed protocol.

"Regarding alcohol and drug testing, the standard practice across law enforcement agencies when responding to vehicle crashes is to test for alcohol or drugs if there’s an indication of potential impairment," said Gail Nosek, the spokeswoman.