On the afternoon of Monday, November 7, Lauren Shurson, 22, was jogging along the Lake Calhoun pedestrian path and listening to music.
She couldn't hear the Chevy TrailBlazer coming up behind her.
To the horror of a dozen bystanders screaming at the driver to stop, Shurson was thrown under the two-ton SUV and dragged for some distance before it finally ground to a halt.
She suffered “very bad deep cuts” to her legs and torso, and appeared to be in shock by the time help arrived, according to the police report.
The driver was 65-year-old Rebecca Averill of Tracy, Minnesota. When police spoke to Averill, she was confused and disoriented. She didn’t know what city she was in, couldn’t remember her own telephone number, and could not tell the difference between the pedestrian path and the road.
Part of Averill's drive on the bike/walking/jogging path was caught on videotape.
“Do [sic] to the way [Averill] was behaving, I thought she had some sort of an unknown medical condition,” wrote Officer Troy Sandberg of Park Police.
He called paramedics.
“After being seen by EMS, they advised me that she may be hypoglycemic and her blood sugar was in the low 40’s," Sandberg wrote. "[Averill’s] blood pressure was 260/100 and advised me they would be transporting [Averill] to Fairview Southdale Hospital for further evaluation.”
No charges were filed. That was 60 days ago.
Shurson’s injuries left her hospitalized for more than a month, and since her release she's been wheelchair-bound. Her life has been forever changed, says her lawyer Pam Rochlin of Minneapolis, and it doesn’t appear as if police ever investigated the incident further.
“The EMS did respond and apparently did take [Averill] to the hospital," Rochlin says. "But there’s nothing in the police reports to show that they did any follow-up with the EMS, with the hospital, with anybody."
According to Rochlin, cops didn’t request any blood testing be provided to them to determine if there were substances in the driver’s system. They have not concluded what sort of medical condition was supposed to have caused Averill to drive on a pedestrian path -- or if there truly was a medical condition at all.
“Further, [the Shursons] feel that if this was truly a medical condition … then this woman should not be driving, should not have a driver’s license,” Rochlin says. “She could potentially put at risk other members of the public.”
City Pages asked the Minneapolis Police Department why these questions are unanswered.
MPD spokeswoman Sgt. Catherine Michal says Minneapolis Police only responded to the scene of the crash. Afterward, they transferred the case to the Minneapolis Park Police Department, meaning regular city cops would not have gone to the hospital to do any follow-up.
“It’s park property,” Michal explains. “Both departments respond to emergencies. We don’t just make the Park Police go to park calls. Minneapolis Police Department officers responded to the scene, made an initial report, but then it was transferred to the Park Police Department.”
City Pages asked the Minneapolis Park Police Department for an update on the case.
“The Park Police responded to the initial incident and wrote a Minneapolis police report,” Chief Jason Ohotto responded in an email. “The case was then routed to the Minneapolis Police Department’s Traffic Unit for additional investigation/review.”
So far, it’s unclear which law enforcement agency is actually working on the case. The runaway driver from that terrifying afternoon isn't much help either. Rochlin says Averill has not responded to calls from her law office.
“Yes, the medical bills are all on us and our insurance,” said Tom Shurson, Lauren’s father. “We are extremely frustrated with the lack of police action and follow-up in an incident where a woman was badly injured."
Averill's SUV crushed Lauren's pelvis, dislocated her femur, and broke her ankle, exposing the bone. The collision stripped large swaths of skin from her elbow. Doctors haven't been able to find all the original pieces for the reconstruction.
Says Shurson: "[Police] seem to be more concerned with protecting the woman that was negligent causing the incident than protecting the health and safety of the public in general.”