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Trooper limping but OK

For a moment, Minnesota State Patrol Trooper Vaughn Ebbighausen thought the van speeding toward him might attempt to maneuver around the spiked sticks laid out to puncture its tires.

Minnesota State Patrol Trooper Vaughn Ebbighausen's patrol car was destroyed

For a moment, Minnesota State Patrol Trooper Vaughn Ebbighausen thought the van speeding toward him might attempt to maneuver around the spiked sticks laid out to puncture its tires.

"But then he gunned the vehicle," Ebbighausen said, "and he was aiming straight for my car."

The 47-year-old sprinted toward the ditch, trying to avoid having his patrol car land on top of him.

"I remember looking over my left shoulder as I was running, and you just hear the massive crunch of folding steel," he said. "And then I remember the back end of my squad car launching into the air, and then I remember getting hit by something."

On Tuesday, Ebbighausen limped around his rural Fergus Falls home, his badly bruised buttocks and a black-and-blue mark on his chin stinging reminders of the violent crash Sunday that, as he put it, "could have been a lot worse."

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Authorities say 48-year-old Jeffery Anderson of Elbow Lake, Minn., didn't stop when a Grant County sheriff's deputy tried to pull him over for going 90 mph in a 55 mph zone about 4 p.m. Sunday.

A high-speed chase ensued, ending when Anderson rammed the van into Ebbighausen's car. The van then hit a Fergus Falls police car and rolled.

Anderson remained in critical condition Tuesday at Innovis Health in Fargo, said hospital spokeswoman Kris Olson.

The Otter Tail and Grant county attorneys are considering charges against Anderson, who does not have a valid driver's license, said Grant County Sheriff Dwight Walvatne.

Sunday's crash wasn't an entirely new experience for Ebbighausen, an 18-year veteran of the State Patrol.

Ten years ago, he was investigating an accident in Eagan in which a vehicle slammed into his car with him inside. Doctors had to staple shut a gash in his scalp.

During a snowstorm a few years ago, he was investigating an accident on Interstate 94 near Rothsay when a vehicle again hit his car as he sat inside it. Ebbighausen walked away unharmed.

But this time was different: He was standing outside his patrol car.

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Ebbighausen said he was at his parents' house in Fergus Falls, getting ready to celebrate his sister's birthday, when he heard a dispatch call about a pursuit in progress on U.S. 59 in Grant County.

He drove just south of Fergus Falls and parked on the shoulder of the road. Three city police cruisers pulled up behind him, and the officers proceeded to lay the spiked "stop sticks" across all four lanes of Pebble Lake Road.

The officers heard sirens blaring and saw the van approaching over a rise in the road, Ebbighausen said.

"He was going a lot faster than the normal speed," he said. "He wasn't braking at all. He was speeding up."

The northbound van veered to the shoulder and crashed head-on into Ebbighausen's patrol car, sending it spinning into the ditch. He said he isn't sure which part of the car hit his backside, but it sent him sliding about 20 feet across the hard-packed snow, rubbing a patch of his scalp raw.

"I was still conscious. I was just laying there, making sure I could still move my feet," he said.

Ebbighausen and a city police officer were treated and released for minor injuries at Lake Region Hospital in Fergus Falls.

The trooper joked about his bruised behind Tuesday, saying he had to decline a request to photograph his injuries. He said he had recently turned down a new patrol car because his current car "still had a lot of miles left on it."

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"But now I think I'm back up at the top of the list of a new car," he said.

Ebbighausen said he will take a few days off before hitting the highway again.

"I'm anxious to go back to work," he said. "(It) hasn't changed my attitude about my job at all. It's still a job I enjoy doing."

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528

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