Zamboni driver allegedly drunk while on the ice

  • Article by: PAT PHEIFER , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 31, 2012 - 11:38 PM

An Apple Valley peewee hockey coach saw weaving and called police.

Spectators, hockey players and parents pressed against the ice arena's glass Monday night, watching as a Zamboni driver at the Hayes Arena in Apple Valley weaved across the ice erratically and smacked the machine hard against the boards.

About 25 minutes into what should have been a 10-minute job resurfacing the ice, the driver -- a part-time employee of the city of Apple Valley -- tried to maneuver the unwieldy machine into the arena garage. By then, coach Bryan Dornstreich had called 911.

Officers arrested the 34-year-old Apple Valley man for allegedly driving while intoxicated. He failed field sobriety tests and was taken to police headquarters for a blood-alcohol test. The sample was sent to the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for analysis. Test results were unavailable Tuesday.

The man has not been formally charged. He was convicted of drunken driving in 2002 and twice in 1999.

Dornstreich, who coaches the Eastview Hockey Association's PeeWee C team, said he'd noticed that the rink attendant's eyes were red and that he smelled like the energy drink Red Bull before his team took the ice.

"He looked like I do when I have my allergy attacks," Dornstreich said. "I didn't really think anything of it. He didn't slur his words. He was very alert, got me the keys, we set up the music system and I was on my way."

Before the PeeWee C players, ages 11 to 13, took the ice, Dornstreich said he noticed that the rink attendant was "making stripes on the ice." But the driver went back and corrected all his mistakes. After the game it was a different story, though.

While Dornstreich was working with a referee, a parent ran over to say that the rink attendant was "weaving all over, slurring his words."

By the time that conversation was done, Dornstreich said, the man was already backing the Zamboni onto the ice. And not very well, Dornstreich said.

The coach made sure the referee charged with moving the nets off the ice knew what was going on, then concentrated on getting everybody else away from the glass. When police arrived, the man had gotten into the garage. The door closed and Dornstreich said he left the officers to deal with him.

Meanwhile, parents took to the ice to scrape off the rough spots so the PeeWee A team could practice.

People have been arrested in Minnesota for driving under the influence on everything from a souped-up motorized recliner to a farm tractor. State law says a DWI can result from driving any kind of a motorized vehicle, pretty much anywhere -- a forklift driver at work, a Bobcat driver plowing city sidewalks, a riding lawn mower in a yard.

The Minnesota Court of Appeals did, however, say in 2011 that a physically disabled man driving a motorized scooter could not be convicted of drunken driving. The law makes an exception for "an electric personal assistive mobility device" and the court said the scooter was a wheelchair, not a motor vehicle.

Pat Pheifer • 952-746-3284

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