Fleeing van thief killed after hitting squad car near Olivia, Minn.

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 9, 2013 - 8:36 PM

A thief with a busy rap sheet, the law on his trail and alcohol in his veins slammed a stolen van into a parked and unoccupied deputy’s squad car near Olivia, Minn., and the stolen van he was driving went up in a ball of flames, authorities said.

Cody A. Kirgiss, 22, of Hector, Minn., died Monday at North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale, two days after the early evening crash along Hwy. 212.

The Renville County Sheriff’s Office squad car was sitting on the shoulder as the deputy was putting down “stop sticks” in anticipation of the fleeing van’s arrival west of Olivia, authorities said.

The State Patrol said there was evidence at the scene that Kirgiss had been drinking by the time he got behind the wheel.

According to the Sheriff’s Office:

A 911 caller told Olivia police that Kirgiss was driving a van recklessly, putting people in peril. Another 911 caller said Kirgiss had stolen the van and was heading out of town.

A police officer spotted the van, which had a flat tire on the passenger side. Despite the officer activating his emergency lights and siren, Kirgiss raced out of a residential area and picked up speed as he fled west on Hwy. 212.

An eastbound county deputy pulled over and began placing the tire-deflating devices on the highway. Kirgiss appeared, crossed the centerline and hit the deputy’s squad car head-on, sending the car into an unoccupied pickup truck that also was parked on the shoulder.

The van rolled on its side and burst into flames. Authorities ran to Kirgiss’ aid, while bystanders attempted to douse the flames. Kirgiss was airlifted to North Memorial, where he died.

Since 2009, he has been convicted in Minnesota of fleeing police, aiding and abetting robbery, check forgery, theft and drug possession.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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