Rice County deputy will not face charges after fatally striking woman with squad car; loved ones react

A Rice County Sheriff’s deputy will not face charges after fatally striking a woman with his squad car in January.
Published: Aug. 22, 2022 at 4:45 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 22, 2022 at 5:38 PM CDT
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MORRISTOWN, Minn. (KEYC) - A Rice County Sheriff’s deputy will not face charges after fatally striking a woman with his squad car in January.

In a news release Saturday, the Sheriff’s Office announced no charges will be filed against Sgt. Trevor Peterson following recommendations by the Minnesota State Patrol and Olmsted County Attorney’s Office.

The decision comes after the agencies reviewed dash cam footage and reconstruction of the incident.

“A tragic situation for the family to lose a loved one this way, but it’s also a tragic situation for the deputy to be involved in this,” said Rice County Attorney John Fossum.

In the early morning hours of Jan. 29, authorities say Peterson was in his squad car driving at or below the speed limit on Highway 60, just east of Morristown, when tragedy struck.

“He came across a person laying in the road, and ran into that person,” Fossum stated.

The person was identified as 52-year-old Stephanie Olson-Wesley of Faribault.

She died at the scene of blunt-force injuries.

“The investigators were unable to determine a reason for her to be in the road, but it was 1:30 in the morning, and she was intoxicated,” Fossum explained. “[She] apparently had a blood-alcohol level of .235, so it’s anyone’s guess as to how she got to be there. It’s a cold January night, very dark.”

Rice County asked Olmsted County Attorney Mark Ostrem to review the investigation’s findings to avoid the appearance of a conflict of interest.

On Friday, Ostrem declined to charge Peterson, ultimately concluding that “it is clear that Deputy Peterson did not see her, could not have seen her, and could not have avoided striking her.”

The case is now closed.

Olson-Welsey’s friend, Dawn Shook, says she agrees with the outcome, but she still has many unanswered questions.

“That’s the worst part of not knowing where, how, why, and to not get any concrete answers,” Shook said.

Moving forward, Shook’s focus will remain on keeping her friend’s legacy alive.

“Stephanie was loved by so many people in our area. Always willing to smile, to listen to people, to help them,” Shook added. “I can’t even imagine what [Peterson] and his family is going through, especially being in a small town. I feel bad for him. I just don’t want him to suffer with it any longer either.”