BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — The 42-year-old son of US Senator Kevin Cramer crashed his family’s SUV through a hospital emergency room and then drove 70 miles before crashing into a patrol car while being chased by police, killing a sheriff’s deputy who was attaching a tire deflation device, according to the authorities and the senator’s family.
Ian Cramer, of Bismarck, was taken by his mother to a hospital around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday over concerns about his mental health, Bismarck police said. When he got out of the van, Ian Cramer took the wheel and went through a door to exit the closed ambulance area in the hospital’s emergency department.
More than an hour later, a deputy from neighboring Mercer County spotted Cramer and the Chevrolet Tahoe in Hazen, a community about 70 miles (113 kilometers) northwest of Bismarck. The North Dakota Highway Patrol said in a news release that a chase began and the pickup truck crashed into a Mercer County sheriff’s vehicle that was parked along a state highway.
An officer was standing behind the parked vehicle and preparing to deploy a tire deflation device to end the chase. The impact of the crash pushed the parked vehicle into the officer, killing him. He was identified Thursday as 53-year-old Paul Martin.
Ian Cramer was evaluated at a hospital and then jailed. The patrol said charges are pending.
“We ask the public to pray for the family of the lost officer and the colleagues who serve us every day and are grateful for all they do for us,” Kevin Cramer said in a statement.
The first-term Republican senator wrote that his son “suffers from severe mental disorders manifesting in severe paranoia and hallucinations.” Earlier Wednesday, Ian Cramer insisted on “going with his brother Ike,” who died in 2018, according to the statement, which did not further explain what that means.
Alarmed, Kris Cramer took her son to the emergency room at Sanford Health in Bismarck. While parked in the ambulance bay, “Ian sat in the driver’s seat and allegedly rammed the bay doors and fled the scene,” Bismarck police said.
The senator’s daughter tracked the truck through a cell phone and alerted authorities. The patrol said when a Mercer County deputy saw Ian Cramer in Hazen and approached him, Cramer fled. The crash occurred a short time later on North Dakota Highway 200, about 5 miles (8 kilometers) from Hazen.
Martin was an 18-year veteran of the sheriff’s office, who said he was married with three children.
In a post on the sheriff’s office Facebook page, Mercer County Sheriff Terry Ternes said Martin “is our beloved brother in law enforcement, husband, father and grandfather. Our wound is raw and our hearts are broken.”
North Dakota Governor Doug Burgum ordered government agencies to fly flags at half-staff in Martin’s honor until sunset on the day of his burial. He encouraged residents to do the same.
According to Sanford Health Bismarck, the Bismarck hospital sustained damage to the main entrance to its emergency department’s vehicle and ambulance garage. The entrance is temporarily out of service, with a temporary entrance since it was installed. No one was injured, the hospital said.
Whitney Zeadow, 36, who lives near Hazen, said Martin was once her neighbor; She sometimes took care of the retired police dogs he had when he was away from home.
“He was just a fantastic man,” Zeadow said, fighting back tears. “He was the guy who would be your champion. He was just there to support the community, help the kids. Any little thing. “It was just a pleasure to be around him.”
Kevin Cramer was elected to the Senate in 2018 after serving three terms in the House. He has been a strong advocate for law enforcement.
in a op-ed published on Fox News website in 2020 during the turmoil following the murder of George Floyd In Minneapolis, Cramer defended the police.
“Though imperfect, police officers are still heroes,” he wrote. “They wake up every day ready to risk their lives to keep their friends and neighbors safe.”
In his statement Wednesday, Cramer said his family is grieving with “the family of the hero who tried to help Ian,” referring to Martin.
The Cramer family has suffered tragedies before.
Isaac “Ike” Cramer in 2007 began dating a woman who was the mother of a baby, Abel. Three years later, the woman was murdered by her ex-husband. Kevin and Kris Cramer adopted the boy, who is now a teenager. Cramer also has two daughters and six grandchildren, according to his Senate website.
In 2018, shortly after Kevin Cramer announced his candidacy for the Senate, Ike Cramer died of liver and kidney failure after a long battle with alcohol addiction. He was 35 years old.
Kevin Cramer wrote on Facebook at the time that he and his wife were at his bedside when he “took his last breath on Earth. Now Isaac doesn’t feel anxiety or the need to drink alcohol. He feels no pain and will never be depressed again.”
Salter reported from O’Fallon, Missouri. Associated Press researcher Rhonda Shafner in New York and Heather Hollingsworth in Mission, Kansas, contributed to this report.