Fargo Zamboni driver arrested on suspicion of DUI when game spectators report erratic ice-cleaning
FARGO – The man who was arrested here Friday night on suspicion of driving a Zamboni while drunk during a high school hockey game was also arrested a month ago for drunk driving.
Steven James Anderson, 27, was arrested during the Davies and Williston girls game Friday night at South Arena after spectators and school officials noticed him driving erratically while resurfacing the ice. A school official called police to the arena, where he was arrested.
“I’ve been here for 22 years … and we have not had an incident like this before,” said Jim Larson, director of finance and human resources for the Fargo Park District, which operates the arena.
Anderson of Fargo was booked into the Cass County Jail on suspicion of DUI and bailed out Saturday morning.
He was arrested and convicted of another DUI charge in December, according to North Dakota court records.
Anderson pleaded guilty to that DUI charge and was sentenced to 20 hours of community service and was not allowed to use alcohol until Jan. 6, records say. He was also fined $1,000.
In that same incident, he was also charged with misdemeanor possession of marijuana paraphernalia.
Larson said the Park District was unaware of the Dec. 15 DUI or possession charges but said the district conducts background checks on its employees at least once per year and has a zero-tolerance policy about drinking on the job.
Larson said he didn’t know when Anderson, a seasonal employee for six years at the district, was last checked for DUI, but said it would have been in the last year.
Anderson was also convicted of a misdemeanor public consumption/possession of alcohol charge in May 2009. He paid a $100 fine for that conviction.
Larson said the 2009 charge may not have disqualified Anderson for the position he held.
Larson said this incident was caused by an individual who made a poor choice, and district officials will formally address the issue on Monday. Anderson will not be working for the Park District in the meantime, he said.
“I don’t want to in any way dismiss how serious this is,” Larson said. “We’ll review the situation to determine how this happened and what we can do to make it even more fool proof.”
Larson was notified about the incident and arrived at the rink about 8:30 p.m.
Another Zamboni driver was called in but the teams’ coaches decided to play on the rough ice rather than wait for the other driver to arrive.
Fargo Police Lt. Joel Vettel said even though the arrested Zamboni driver was not on a public street, North Dakota law dictates anybody operating a motor vehicle while heavily under the influence of drugs or alcohol be arrested.
“Certainly this is a very unique situation, one that to my knowledge we have not seen here in the city of Fargo,” Vettel said.
Vettel said the charge Anderson faces might change once the case reaches the courts because of the unusual circumstances.
“It’s gonna come down to an attorney making a judgment based on their professional opinion,” Vettel said. “But certainly the officers at that point made a decision based on their observations and their interpretations of the law, that it was appropriate to arrest him for DUI.”
“I think everybody recognized that it was appropriate for that person to be charged with a crime based on what he did,” added Vettel, who is also an elected member of the Fargo Park Board.