The driver suspected of being distracted and impaired when he fatally struck a runner Wednesday has been identified as a Twin Cities attorney.
Peter H. Berge, 60, of St. Paul, was driving early in the evening on Mississippi River Boulevard when he struck Scott A. Spoo, 35, of Woodbury, an avid runner and cyclist who was in the crosswalk at Dayton Avenue, police spokesman Steve Linders said. Spoo died at the scene.
Along with possibly being impaired by either drugs or alcohol, Berge also may have been distracted, Linders said.
Berge, who has yet to be charged, was released from jail about 9:20 a.m. Friday as investigators put together their case.
“According to witnesses interviewed at the scene, Mr. Berge may have been using his cellular phone at the time of the crash,” Linders said. Results from blood tests were pending to determine whether Berge was impaired by alcohol or drugs, Linders said.
Court records show only a handful of parking violations for Berge in Minnesota.
Berge, an attorney, is the ethics chairman for the Hennepin County Bar Association.
He also was web director for Minnesota Continuing Legal Education, a nonprofit established by the Minnesota State Bar Association that develops various educational services for lawyers.
A staff member at Continuing Legal Education said Thursday that he left that job in recent weeks.
Ramsey County Attorney’s Office spokesman Dennis Gerhardstein said the case file was returned to St. Paul police for further investigation, “which is often necessary in this type of case.”
He added that Ramsey County Attorney John Choi will refer the case to another county prosecutor to avoid a conflict of interest since Berge is a past supporter and contributor to a campaign committee.
Spoo, a 3M engineer in the stationery and office division, competed in various 5-kilometer road races and was well known among cyclists.
“My interactions with Scott were in our 3M cycling group, which worked companywide to improve cycling here on the St. Paul campus,” said work colleague Ed Hedblom.
Hedblom said Spoo was active in improving bike commuting for 3M employees, mentoring new bike commuters. He participated in bike-to-work events and cycled competitively.
“Scott and I often did the same gravel bike races, and he was an accomplished and fit cyclist,” Hedblom said.
“He had an easy manner. He was very welcoming and kind. Everyone at 3M who knew him is devastated.”
Friend Joel Benton said Spoo was part of a community that stayed in touch year round through biking, skiing, running and hanging out.
“We are all aware of the dangers of being near roads but don’t like to discuss it because it is scary, to be honest,” he said.
“Accidents happen. That being said, the law should not be forgiving for distracted drivers and/or driving impaired.”
Spoo’s traffic-related death is the first for a pedestrian in St. Paul this year. Last year, four pedestrians were struck and killed by vehicles.
“We’ve been working hard to raise awareness about the dangers of distracted driving, impaired driving and also just paying attention to pedestrians,” Linders said. “It’s a very sad situation.”