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Minnesota state trooper escapes injury when squad is hit by drunken driver

A Minnesota state trooper narrowly escaped injury early Thanksgiving Day, when his squad car was hit by a drunken driver while he was writing a citation to another alcohol-impaired motorist.

Trooper Sam Catlin had pulled over a motorist for driving while drunk on northbound Highway 52, just north of Rochester, Minn., when a second driver came by and sideswiped his police vehicle at 3:14 a.m., said patrol spokesman Lt. Matt Langer.

Catlin came away unharmed, Langer said. It was unclear how much damage was done to the squad.

A second trooper assisting with the original traffic stop arrested the second driver, a 25-year-old woman from Rochester. She was being held Thursday morning in the Olmsted County jail. Records show the woman has one previous conviction for driving under the influence of alcohol.

The two arrests near Rochester were among 33 drunken-driving arrests that the patrol made statewide between 6 p.m. Wednesday and 10 a.m. Thursday as part of a DWI enforcement, Langer said.

Over the past five years, there have been 291 drunken-driving arrests for the two-day Thanksgiving period, making it one of the most dangerous holiday travel periods, according to the patrol.

The patrol also responded to seven injury crashes from Wednesday night and into Thursday morning. The latest happened about

4:45 a.m. Thursday, when a vehicle left southbound Highway 169 and rolled over north of Milaca, Minn. The occupants, a 24-year-old man and a 23-year-old woman, both from Lexington, Minn., were thrown from the vehicle, the patrol said.

They were airlifted to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale, Minn., where they were in critical condition late Thursday morning, a hospital spokeswoman said.

Neither were wearing seat belts, and alcohol is believed to have played a role in the crash, the patrol said.