Fergus Falls councilman remembered as 'marvelous public servant'

Timothy Rundquist
Timothy Rundquist, a Fergus Falls City Council member and business school professor, died in a car accident following a police chase in Otter Tail County on Monday, Dec. 22, 2014.
Courtesy of the city of Fergus Falls

A Fergus Falls City Council member and business school professor died in a car accident following a police chase in Otter Tail County on Monday evening.

The Minnesota State Patrol identified the victim as Timothy Rundquist. He also served as temporary assistant Stevens County attorney and was a part-time business professor at Minnesota State University in Moorhead.

A Minnesota State Patrol trooper tried to pull over a Volkswagen Jetta for speeding on Highway 54 near Elbow Lake at about 5 p.m. State Patrol Lt. Charles Backes said Rundquist kept driving, leading law enforcement on a 15- to 20-mile chase.

Backes said Rundquist slowed down as he drove through the city of Elbow Lake and did not drive erratically. The chase reached speeds of 80 mph at some points.

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Law enforcement officers put down "stop sticks," which Rundquist's car struck. He then drove head-on into an unoccupied Ashby Police Department squad car. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

The Minnesota State Patrol reports that Rundquist was 62 years old. His obituary said he was 52.

Backes says investigators don't know yet why Rundquist fled and don't want to speculate.

"Obviously this time of year, the driver's death is tragic and it's not how we want any pursuit to end," Backes said. "But ultimately we had no control over the driver's actions at the end of this incident."

Officers from the Ashby Police Department, Fergus Falls Police Department, Grant County Sheriff's Office and Otter Tail County Sheriff's Office also participated in the pursuit. No officers were injured in the incident.

Rundquist's colleagues on the Fergus Falls City Council said he was engaged in the community.

"He was a very thoughtful intelligent man and a valued member of the City Council and a marvelous public servant," said Mayor Hal Leland. "We are all very sad and will grieve."

Leland said Rundquist's background as an attorney made for an easy transition onto the council. The mayor said Rundquist was very concerned about the future and redevelopment of the Fergus Falls State Hospital Kirkbride buildings.

Councilman Ben Schierer said they attended The Federated Church in Fergus Falls together and their children performed together in a Christmas pageant on Sunday.

"He was a great guy. He was very, very involved, from singing in choir at church to obviously running and being elected to the city council," Schierer said. "He was very committed to his family and his community. We're sure going to miss him."

Rundquist's LinkedIn profile says he had his own law office for nearly 11 years in Fergus Falls. He'd taught business law at St. Cloud State University, Bemidji State University and Winona State University.

His funeral is set for Sunday at The Federated Church.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.