Conservation officer dies in line of duty near Grand Rapids

A DNR Conservation Officer died in the line of duty after a crash near Grand Rapids Monday morning.

Thirty-nine-year-old Sarah Grell is the 23rd state conservation officer to die in the line of duty in the department’s 134-year history.

Grell was stationed in Grand Rapids and leaves behind a husband and three children.

“The sense of loss we feel right now is indescribable,” DNR Commissioner Sarah Strommen said.

“We are heartbroken for her family. Our deepest sympathies and concerns are with them. Officer Grell leaves behind an incredible legacy of service to Minnesota’s people and natural resources.”

“Officer Grell was the epitome of a public servant and served the Enforcement Division, the DNR, and the people of Minnesota with distinction,” said Col. Rodmen Smith, DNR Enforcement Division director.

“Her loss is devastating, and we ask the people of Minnesota to keep Officer Grell and her family in their thoughts during this difficult time.”

“Gwen and I extend our deepest sympathies to the family of Officer Sarah Grell, especially her husband, DNR Forester Gene Grell, and their children,” said Gov. Tim Walz.

“Officer Grell came from a long line of DNR Conservation Officers, including her father, uncle, and grandfather. In keeping with the family tradition, Officer Grell was committed to protecting both our state’s natural resources as well as those who enjoy them. We are grateful for her service and the service of all our Conservation Officers who make our state a great place to live. My ask of Minnesotans is that the next time you meet a Conservation Officer as you enjoy Minnesota’s public lands and waters, remember Officer Grell and thank that officer for their work.”

The Minnesota State Patrol is investigating the two-vehicle crash that claimed Officer Grell’s life.

The crash report says Grell was northbound on Itasca County Road 336 in a Chevy Silverado when an eastbound Peterbilt Semi was on County Road 57.

The semi made contact with the driver’s door of the pickup in the intersection, causing fatal injuries to Grell.

All were wearing their seat belts and alcohol is not believed to be a factor.

The semi driver, 42-year-old Milo Polovina of Grand Rapids, was treated for non-life-threatening at the scene.


Larissa Donovan is the News Director for the stations of Paul Bunyan Broadcasting and has been, almost without interruption, since Election Day 2016. She covers all the beats in north-central Minnesota, such as local government, crime, education, environment and social issues. She studied communications at Bemidji State University.


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