MPR’s Bob Kelleher visited a controversy that’s been brewing in the Northern woods for some time — the suggestion by some locals that Border Patrol agents along the Canadian border have been racing along like cowboys, putting the safety of residents in peril.
Much of it focuses on an October 2007 accident:
On a rain-slicked stretch of the Gunflint Trail, a Border Patrol vehicle struck and killed Kenneth Peterson, a prominent and well-liked local doctor. A tree had fallen across the pavement that night and Peterson was out of his car trying to clear it from the road.
The Border Patrol agent, Maranda Weber, was indicted on less-serious charges than some of the locals wanted and is trying to get the case moved to federal court, a move that some fear is the first step to having it quietly go away.
Emotions are pretty high in Grand Marais as evidenced by a writer who sent us an e-mail this afternoon:
I think the public ought to know: 1) There was a large tree down across the road that stopped traffic. 2) Two cars stopped, their occupants got out and left both their headlights and taillights on so that oncoming traffic FROM BOTH SIDES of the trail would be able to see them, and 3) Ken was using a chainsaw, so in addition to a fallen tree across the trail, two pair of headlights and taillights, and two people moving, there was the loud sound of a chainsaw. One wonders what anyone driving on the Gunflint Trail at night could be doing to miss all this; all of us who drive the Trail, even occasionally, know to slow down at night to avoid moose. It would also be hopeful for the public to know how fast the Border Patrol car was traveling when she hit Ken and then hit the tree.
I realize your article has a lot of detail, but feel some essential detail that explains why feelings are high among Grand Marais residents, and their friends, should be included.
Cook County Attorney Timothy Scannell said Weber refused to be interviewed or appear before the grand jury, according to the International Falls Daily Journal, and that the Border Patrol refused to provide basic information like how many hours she’d been working before the accident.
In an article this summer, the Star Tribune said the agent didn’t react before the accident. She didn’t swerve, she didn’t brake, it said.