The Minnesota Department of Human Services is investigating policies after a Brainerd caregiver drove his van while drunk with a client in the vehicle.
It was learned Monday that the caregiver, Graham Marshall Olson, 27, was employed at Quality Enterprises, a Department of Human Services job training program.
According to a report from the Crow Wing County Sheriff’s Department, about 8:45 a.m. on Sept. 4 officers received numerous driving complaints regarding a red van traveling from Brainerd toward Garrison.
The complaints stated the van was driving in excess of 100 mph and forcing other vehicles off the road, with a couple near head-on crashes.
A deputy stopped the van south of Garrison, identified the driver as Olson and noted a passenger in a back seat. Olson told the deputy he was going to drop off his passenger, but he didn’t know where that was because he was lost.
Olson failed sobriety tests and was arrested for driving while intoxicated.
The passenger, a developmentally disabled client at Quality Enterprises, told the deputy and a State Patrol trooper that Olson had picked him up and two other clients to clean at a Baxter restaurant. When they were done, the client said, he and Olson got into the van but Olson drove away before the other clients got in.
The client told officers “he was very frightened by Olson’s driving through town and on Highway 18, Olson’s driving conduct was very dangerous,” the sheriff’s department’s report said.
Olson’s blood-alcohol content was determined to be .21. He was charged with gross misdemeanor third-degree DWI. He pleaded guilty to the charge on Sept. 23 and was sentenced to three years supervised probation.
A story in Sunday’s Star Tribune said Olson’s arrest came a week after an Aug. 28 drowning death of a disabled man in a bathtub at a state-operated group home in Braham, which led to a criminal charge against the state employee on duty that night. The Star Tribune also reported that last week a state worker entrusted to care for vulnerable adults was fired after being charged in a violent burglary in Rochester.
Olson is no longer employed by the state and the Department of Human Services intends to examine its operations in the agency’s services division.
“The well-being of the people we serve is our No. 1 priority. We have taken this incident very seriously and are reviewing our practices to improve quality and ensure client safety,” Assistant Commissioner Maureen O’Connell said in an emailed statement.
MATT ERICKSON may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 855-5857.