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Continued: Ex-Gopher Philip Nelson released on $20K bail; 2nd attacker sought

  • Article by: CURT BROWN , Star Tribune
  • Last update: May 13, 2014 - 10:06 AM

The sergeant then said the video shows Nelson pushing past others “and delivers at least one kick to the left side of [Kolstad’s] head.” Kolstad was clearly defenseless when he was kicked, the complaint says.

Two witnesses told the Star Tribune they saw the entire altercation after leaving separate bars.

“All of a sudden, this guy comes out of nowhere and sucker punches,” said Steph Stassen, 25, a graduate student who was celebrating her graduation with her roommate and first ran to get police.

“He [Kolstad] was knocked out on his feet,” Stassen said. “He fell straight back and smoked his head on the pavement.”

She said “the noise of him hitting his head was so loud.”

“He didn’t try to brace himself or catch himself,” Stassen said.

A man she later learned was Nelson then kicked him once in the head “like it was a soccer ball — just out of nowhere.”

She said everyone was in shock about what had just happened and she ran to get a police officer she had seen minutes earlier. An ambulance arrived about five minutes later.

“He was unconscious after the first punch,” said Stassen’s roommate, Mackenzie Skay.

Kolstad’s family asked for privacy Monday from his bedside at a Mayo Clinic facility in Mankato. They thanked the more than 25,000 well-wishers praying for him through a CaringBridge website.

“We also extend our sincere thoughts and prayers to the Nelson family and others whose lives have been impacted by this situation,” Kolstad’s family said through a Mayo spokesman.

“Please keep in mind that behind the headlines — behind the police reports and the medical data — is a strong, caring man … a loving husband, a father of two daughters …”

Todd Hoffner, head coach at Minnesota State University, Mankato, where Kolstad was a highly respected linebacker, visited the hospital. “All our thoughts and prayers go out for Isaac and a full recovery,” Hoffner said.

But a neurosurgeon quoted in the complaint said Kolstad was suffering from “a severe head injury and a severe pulmonary injury” and he’s not sure if Kolstad will survive.

If he does, Dr. Dominic Cannella is “not optimistic that he will make a good recovery,” according to the complaint. “They were taking the situation hour by hour.”


Curt Brown • 612-673-4767


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