DNR conservation officer died in the line of duty after vehicle crash involving semi

A Minnesota Department of Natural Resources conservation officer died in the line of duty Monday morning.

According to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources, the conservation officer died following a two-vehicle crash near Grand Rapids that involved a semi.

The Minnesota State Patrol said the officer was driving a pickup when a semi struck the truck on the driver-side door.

The DNR also identified the conservation officer as 39-year-old Sarah Grell.

Grell was stationed in Grand Rapids and leaves behind a husband and three children. She served as a conservation officer since 2005 and had a deeply held dedication to serving Minnesota’s people and natural resources. She was part of a proud family legacy – her uncle, father and grandfather also worked as conservation officers. Her husband, Gene, works for the DNR’s Forestry Division and her mother worked for the DNR Fisheries until her retirement, according to the DNR.

"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."

According to the DNR, Grell is the 23rd Minnesota conservation officer to die in the line of duty. Funeral arrangements are still being made.

Gov. Tim Walz also issued a statement in response: "Gwen and I extend our deepest sympathies to the family of Officer Sarah Grell, especially her husband, DNR Forester Gene Grell, and their children. 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."

Walz has ordered all United States flags and Minnesota flags be flown at half staff on the day of Grell’s interment, to be announced.