Staff Sgt. Michael Stroud survived deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan. He’s taken cover as gunfire has whistled past his head. And this week? He’s recovering after a hit-and-run driver struck him and another U.S. Army recruiter on Tuesday while they walked across a parking lot in a Roseville shopping center.
The episode baffles Stroud, 29, who has been in the military for a little more than nine years. “Me and all my buddies went through all that … and we almost get killed walking down the street,” he said Wednesday.
Stroud escaped with minor bruises and scrapes. His co-worker, Staff Sgt. Travis Torgerson, who was trapped under the vehicle and dragged for nearly three-quarters of a mile, was hospitalized with severe abrasions and a broken leg.
Enrico Taylor, 52, of St. Paul, was arrested after police found his abandoned Jeep Cherokee about a mile from where the men were hit Tuesday at the Crossroads of Roseville Shopping Center, 1651 W. County Road B2. He is expected to be charged Thursday.
On Tuesday afternoon, Stroud and other soldiers, who work in the Roseville U.S. Army recruitment office at the shopping center, were walking through the parking lot after eating lunch. As they approached their office, Stroud said, he made eye contact with a man in a vehicle to his right. They kept walking. Then things got fuzzy.
Stroud vaguely recalls being hit in the side. The next thing he remembers is being 15 feet away from where they were walking — and seeing Torgerson dragged away under the sport-utility vehicle.
Stroud rushed inside to get help. He and Sgt. First Class Jeremy Knaak, got into a vehicle to find Torgerson. It wasn’t difficult, Stroud said. He could see a streak on the road where Torgerson had been dragged. When they found him, he was already being helped by paramedics.
When police were called about 1:40 p.m., witnesses said Torgerson had been dragged to the intersection of County Road B2 and Prior Avenue before freeing himself from the Jeep’s undercarriage. The 42-year-old Circle Pines man was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, where he remained Wednesday.
Stroud, of Brooklyn Center, who was back at work on Wednesday, said things could have gone much worse. At first, he wasn’t sure whether Torgerson would even survive.
“It’s not good to get hit by a vehicle, but it’s a good day when you can walk away from it,” Stroud said.
Knaak spent the night with Torgerson and his family at the hospital and said Torgerson was doing fine under the circumstances and even joking a little. The soldiers’ combat experience prepared them for dealing with emergency situations like Tuesday.
“It’s second nature,” Knaak said.
Staff writer Mary Lynn Smith contributed to this report.