Duluth dentist's blood-alcohol level 3½ times legal limit after he struck State Patrol car
DULUTH -- A Duluth dentist had a blood-alcohol content 3½ times the legal limit to drive when he plowed into a Minnesota State Patrol trooper parked in an Interstate 35 median last month.
That information was contained in a criminal complaint filed Tuesday in Carlton County District Court charging Timothy Robert Langguth, 61, with criminal vehicular operation of a motor vehicle resulting in substantial bodily harm and a second count of criminal vehicular operation of a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol concentration of .08 or greater, resulting in substantial bodily harm.
Langguth's blood-alcohol content was .28, according to the complaint.
Trooper Erick Sjodin, 31, graduated from the State Patrol Academy in April and was working only his ninth shift alone when police say Langguth drove his 1998 Subaru Legacy into Sjodin's 2006 Chevrolet Impala squad car on the passenger side about 12:25 a.m. Aug. 22 in the median of Interstate 35 near the Moorhead overpass in Cloquet.
Both vehicles were total losses. Sjodin, the married father of three children between 1 and 4 years old, sustained injuries to his abdomen, right kidney, right lung, internal bleeding and contusions to his right leg. Langguth was initially in critical condition but is recovering from his injuries. He has been discharged from the hospital.
Carlton County Attorney Thom Pertler was thinking of Sjodin and state troopers like him Monday when he filed the charges.
"We presume and expect that state troopers are out there to protect us on the road and in our communities," Pertler said. "This gives us reason to realize they are out there putting their lives on the line every day. I commend them for their efforts. We have to be thankful for what they do and give them credit. Trooper Erick Sjodin could have lost his life. We have to think about that."
Sjodin and his patrol partner, Matt Respet, were responding to a call of a motorist who reported that Langguth's vehicle passed him and then weaved around on the highway. Sjodin pulled into a freeway turnaround and waited.
"A car came over the hill and all of a sudden his lights just shined right in my eyes and it didn't make any sense," Sjodin said. "I knew something was wrong as soon as I saw that. ... Before I knew it, he was already into my car."
The rookie trooper described the collision as "crunching and exploding glass." He said he knew he would be all right when Respet showed up and took charge of the crash scene. He was transported to Cloquet Memorial Hospital to be treated.
"It's not a good technical term to use, but it was an explosive collision," he said. "It just felt like everything was blowing up around me."
Sjodin said God and his seat belt saved him. "Aside from the fact that I think God preserved my life and Mr. Langguth's life, I think the seat belt played a role," he said.
"The only thing intact was the driver's seat. Everything around it was completely destroyed."
He said he doesn't like being in the public eye, but if this accident makes others think about the possible consequences of drinking and driving he can find some consolation in that.
Sjodin said he is a Christian and he's forgiven Langguth.
"I've heard nothing but good things about the guy," Sjodin said of Langguth. "Everybody says he is a great guy and they are surprised that it happened. I just hope that he can get through all of it and everything will be all right for him and his family."
Langguth had a drunken-driving conviction in 1998. He couldn't be reached for comment Tuesday night.
"On behalf of the family, we love him, he made a mistake, and we're going to support him through it," said his daughter, Stacy Langguth, of Duluth.
"Our hearts and prayers go out to the state trooper and his family," said Langguth's wife, Maureen. "They're definitely in our hearts and minds."
Sjodin said he has a doctor's appointment Tuesday and hopes to get word that he can return to work by the end of the month.
"The most important thing for people to know is that drinking and driving will change lives," he said. "It will kill people and destroy families. I want people to be aware of those dangers."