New Hope police officer hit by distracted driver shares his story

"I didn't know the severity of it until I saw the video and saw how bad it could have been"

Susie Jones
October 09, 2018 - 2:43 pm

Officer Tony Gust had just finished responding to a call with his partner.  The two squads were waiting at a stop light at Boone and 42nd. When the light changed, Gust drove forward, just catching a glance at a car approaching from the right.

"I thought she appeared to be slowing down," Gust said at a news conference on Tuesday. "I checked to my left, and just in the time I went to glance back to my right, she was right on my vehicle, and there was no time to react."

The Minnesota State Patrol released the frightening video showing the crash, seen above.

"The immediate impact hit my passenger rear side," Gust said. " When that happened, it spun my vehicle 180 degrees around."

When the two vehicles stopped, he was able to take in the scope and severity of the crash. "I immediately feared the worst, " he said. "I jumped out of my vehicle and ran to make sure she was not hurt."

He was grateful that neither of them was seriously injured.

Authorities say the woman was distracted, telling officers she was looking down to get a drink. Gust is now using the crash to strengthen his message about the dangers of distracted driving.

"It's the people that let their guard down, " he said. "They feel if they are on a slower, and calmer street, that it's okay to take a moment at a stop light and send a text, or look at social media, but I want to make it very clear, it is not okay."

He said a driver can be doing everything right, but if those around them aren’t paying attention, there can be serious consequences.

According to the State Patrol, in Minnesota in five years, from 2013 to 2017, distracted or inattentive driving was a contributing factor in one in five crashes, resulting in an average of 53 deaths and 221 serious injuries each year.

Texting citations have increased by 331 percent during that period. 

2017: 7,357

2012: 1,707

In that same period, from 2013 to 2017, seven people have died and more than 2,000 people have been injured in Dakota County due to distracted driving-related crashes.

The Dakota County Sheriff’s Office and their partnering agencies in their county will be conducting a one-day extra distracted driving enforcement detail from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 10 to remind motorists to put the phone down, tune out the distractions and focus 100 percent on the road.