LEWISTON (AP) -- Theodore Foss, a corporal with the Minnesota State Patrol, died while trying to keep the highways safe.
He was hit by a semitrailer truck during a routine traffic stop on Interstate 90 in southeastern Minnesota on Thursday.
"When we lose a law enforcement officer, all Minnesotans lose something precious," Public Safety Commissioner Charlie Weaver said Thursday night in Winona, where he and other patrol officials visited Foss' widow.
Foss' survivors include his spouse, Andrea, who is Winona's deputy police chief, and their children, Mitchell, 5, and Hannah, 2.
The accident happened about 2:20 p.m. as Foss, 35, stood at the side of a minivan he had stopped for speeding about a mile west of the Lewiston exit, Weaver said.
A Federal Express truck struck the back of Foss' patrol car, which had its emergency flashers on, Weaver said. The patrol car hit the minivan, and the semi ran over Foss as it pushed both vehicles forward, Weaver said. The trooper died at the scene.
A couple and two children in the minivan were hurt and taken to St. Marys Hospital in Rochester. The children were released and the parents remained there in stable condition, public safety spokeswoman Cathy Clark said. The truck driver was treated at the scene for minor injuries.
Weaver said skid marks and witness accounts indicated Foss was well off the roadway when hit. Troopers were reconstructing the accident and weren't immediately able to say what caused the truck driver to lose control.
The trucker was "taken in for lab tests" and the patrol is "taking statements from him at this time," said Capt.Dave Graham, commander of the Rochester district of the State Patrol.
Its a little preliminary yet for citations. The investigation is still ongoing, he said, adding that several witnesses were being questioned.
Weaver said the accident happened on a clear stretch of road. It was three-quarters of a mile after the crest of a hill, so there were no weather-related issues, no visibility issues, he said.
At Federal Express headquarters in Memphis, Tenn., spokeswoman Sandra Munoz said Fed Ex will cooperate to the fullest extent with the investigation.
Our heartfelt sympathies go out to his family, friends and his fellow law enforcement officers, Munoz said. We sincerely regret that this accident occurred. This has affected all of us.
Foss was born in Zumbrota and graduated from high school in Bagley. Graham said Foss had a zeal he never lost through 14 years of traffic stops and investigating collisions.
He was a nice young man, Graham said. Not only a good officer, but a good person.
Twice in his career Foss was commended by the patrol. In 1993 he was honored for professionalism in handling a fatal crash investigation. Two girls had died, and Foss worked hard to keep their survivors apprised of the investigation. In 1994 he was commended after he caught a fleeing bank robber.
Foss is the seventh state trooper killed in the line of duty since the patrol was formed in 1929, Weaver said.
Col. Anne Beers, chief of the patrol, said the crash points out how vulnerable all motorists are.
Yesterday, we had a press conference talking about aggressive driving and the problems with Labor Day. We said this could happen to you, it could happen to anybody. This time it happened to one of our own, one of our Minnesota state troopers.
Brainerd Dispatch ©2013. All Rights Reserved.