Officials identify Minnesota conservation officer who died after car crash

Officer is the 23rd to have died in the line of duty since 1887.

Grell. (Photo courtesy of the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.)

ST. PAUL — The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources identified Officer Sarah Grell as the conservation officer who died Monday morning, May 24, following a two-vehicle crash near Grand Rapids.

The DNR confirmed her identity in a news release late Monday. Grell, 39, had served as a conservation officer from Grand Rapids since 2005 and is survived by her husband and three children, the news release said.

"The sense of loss we feel right now is indescribable," DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen said in the release. "We are heartbroken for her family. Our deepest sympathies and concerns are with them. Officer Grell leaves behind an incredible legacy of service to Minnesota’s people and natural resources."

Other details, such as the identities and status of other passengers who may have been involved in the crash, as well as the events leading up to it, have yet to be disclosed. The Minnesota State Patrol, which is investigating the crash, did not immediately respond to a request for more information.

Grell died in the line of duty, according to the DNR, in what is the first instance of a Minnesota conservation officer being killed on the job since Officer Eugene "Gene" Wynn's death in 2019. Hers is the 23rd such death to have occurred since 1887, according to the DNR.


The DNR said in Monday night's news release that Grell had a "deeply held dedication to serving Minnesota’s people and natural resources" and that her family has a legacy of conservation work. Her uncle, father and grandfather all served as conservation officers, the DNR said.

Grell's husband Gene also works for the DNR Forestry Division, the agency said, and her mother worked for its fisheries.

Conservation officers are licensed in Minnesota through the state Board of Peace Officer Standards and Training, which also licenses local police officers and deputy sheriffs, and are responsible for the enforcement of laws relating to fish and wildlife, state parks, trails, forests, waters and wetlands.

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