Secretary of state candidate John Howe and his campaign manager were recovering Monday after a parade float they were on crashed a day earlier, throwing both men off a trailer.
Howe and his campaign manager, Tim Droogsma, were hospitalized Sunday with injuries, but both are expected to fully recover.
“We go to all these different parades ... all over the state,” Howe said Monday as he rested at his Red Wing home. “You don’t expect anything to go wrong.”
Howe, a Republican running against DFL Secretary of State Steve Simon, was riding on the Republican Party float in Carver’s Steamboat Days parade with about a dozen local campaign volunteers and state Rep. Jim Newberger, who is running against U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar.
After the parade ended, the trailer was crowded with people, so Howe and Droogsma stood on the edge, with a foot on the trailer and another foot on the tractor hitch. Howe said the driver of the antique tractor was going about 15 to 20 miles per hour when the steering malfunctioned and the tractor bolted to the right, hitting the curb and sending both men flying off the trailer.
Howe said he hit his head on the pavement while Droogsma fell next to the trailer, the 2,800-pound car hauler running over his legs.
“There was panic for a second,” said Amy Koch, the former state Senate majority leader who is running Karin Housley’s race for U.S. Senate, and was at the Carver parade. “It was kind of scary and wild. In those moments, people galvanize and come together.”
She and Newberger, who is a paramedic, rushed to stop traffic and help with first aid until first responders got there and took both men to the hospital.
Howe was released from Hennepin Healthcare on Sunday night with 14 staples in the back of his head. Howe said Monday that, while stiff and sore, he’s grateful he didn’t break any bones and that no one else on the float, including his 13-year-old daughter, was injured.
“We’re just so thankful; it could have been so much worse,” Howe said.
Droogsma, also of Red Wing, who served as a press secretary to former U.S. Sen. Rudy Boschwitz and to Gov. Arne Carlson, remained hospitalized in stable condition Monday at Ridgeview Medical Center in Waconia. “The miracle in this was there were no broken bones,” he said from his hospital room.
The driver, who hasn’t been named, wasn’t cited by the Carver County Sheriff’s Office, Howe said.
Droogsma and Koch have attended hundreds of parades in their political careers, and both said they’ve never heard of an accident like this.
“Parades are safe,” Newberger added. “Sometimes accidents happen.”
Several Republican officials voiced their concern for the two after learning of the incident. In addition, Simon, the incumbent, released a statement and texted Howe directly with his well wishes. State DFL Chair Ken Martin, also passed along his well wishes to Howe, added that in his 28 years in politics, “I’ve never heard of anything like this.”
Howe, a former mayor of Red Wing who represented southeastern Minnesota in the state Senate from 2011 to 2013, said he’s looking forward to returning to the campaign trail — including attending 15 to 20 more parades this election season.
“It’s a kind of unfortunate event,” Howe said of the accident. “It’s not going to stop me from parades.”