01/01/2004

Minn. Sheriff's Deputy Killed in Four-Car DUI Crash

Officer Down: Jon F. Niemann - [Prior Lake, Minnesota]

The Associated Press

PLYMOUTH, Minn. - A Scott County sheriff's deputy who crusaded against drunken driving was killed Tuesday night in a four-car crash that police believe was caused by a drunken driver.

Jon F. Niemann, 37, of Prior Lake, had just dropped off his 11-year-old son and was headed home on Interstate 494 when a car jumped the median and struck his pickup just after 10 p.m. Niemann, who was off duty, was killed instantly.

The suspect, a 21-year-old Albertville man, was believed to be intoxicated, authorities said.

Witnesses said the suspect's car was in the northbound lane when it swerved, hit the median and went airborne. It landed on Niemann's pickup in the southbound lane and then crashed into two other vehicles.

The suspect was being held for observation at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale. The driver of the third vehicle was treated and released, and a fourth driver was not hurt.

Niemann, who is survived by his wife and two sons, was an advocate for tougher penalties for drunken drivers, said his mother, Allie Niemann.

"He really had a passion to make the world a better place," she said.

Jon Niemann, who joined the Marines at age 18, served as a sheriff's deputy in Los Angeles before moving back to Minnesota. He also volunteered as a firefighter in Scott County.

"Jon always put someone else before himself," his wife, Lorrie Niemann, said.

His father, Ray Niemann, cautioned others to think twice before getting behind the wheel after having a few drinks. "You can talk and talk and talk until you're blue in the face - someway, somehow the message has got to get out to folks. ... It's one thing to drink and party, but recognize that you're not capable of driving after you do that."
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