North Dakota deputy killed by son of U.S. Senator fleeing police as mother tried to get him mental health treatment

Deputy Paul Martin was outside of his patrol unit preparing to lay road spikes when he was struck by a fleeing vehicle and killed.

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BISMARCK, N.D. — A deputy with the Mercer County Sheriff’s Office in North Dakota was killed Wednesday when he was struck by a fleeing vehicle during a chase. The driver of that vehicle is the son of U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND).

Deputy Paul Martin, 53, was outside of his patrol unit and in the process of laying down road spikes when he was struck and killed by a vehicle being driven by 42-year-old Ian Cramer, according to authorities.

Cramer was driven by his mother Kris Cramer to the Sanford Health emergency room in Bismark at around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday due to concerns about his mental health, the Associated Press reported.

While the family’s Chevy Tahoe was parked in the ambulance sally port, “Ian got into the driver’s seat and allegedly rammed the doors of the bay and fled the scene,” Bismarck Police said.

More than an hour later, a deputy in neighboring Mercer County located Cramer and the Chevy SUV in the town of Hazen, a small community about 70 miles northwest of Bismarck.

Paul Martin
Deputy Paul Martin (Image via KFYR-TV)

According to a press release issued by the North Dakota Highway Patrol, a chase began and the Tahoe subsequently crashed into a Mercer County sheriff’s vehicle that was positioned along a state highway.

Deputy Martin was standing behind the stopped patrol unit and preparing to deploy a tire deflation device in an effort to end the chase.

However, Cramer crashed the Tahoe into the sheriff’s patrol vehicle, which ultimately struck and killed the deputy.

Mercer County Sheriff Ternes said in a press statement:

Our entire community has suffered the tragic loss of Deputy Paul Martin. He is our beloved brother in law enforcement, a husband, father, and grandpa. Our wound is raw, and our hearts are broken.

We will put one foot in front of the other and move forward slowly, honoring all the wishes humanly possible of his wife and family.

Our department will notify our Mercer County community of remembrance arrangements.

May God Bless and walk with our community.

Ian Cramer was arrested and taken to a hospital for evaluation before he was booked into jail. The North Dakota Highway Patrol said criminal charges are pending.

Ian Cramer
Ian Cramer, the 42-year-old son of U.S. Sen. Kevin Cramer.(McClean County Sheriff’s Office)

Sen Kevin Cramer, a first-term Republican, issued the following statement regarding the tragic events:

“Earlier this evening, our 42-year-old son Ian was involved in a police chase which resulted in an accident that killed an officer. Ian suffers from serious mental disorders which manifest in severe paranoia and hallucinations. [Kevin’s wife] Kris was with Ian when he insisted on going to his brother Ike. Ike died in 2018. Kris took Ian to the Sanford Health emergency room in Bismarck. When she got out of our vehicle, Ian jumped into the driver’s seat and fled. Our daughter was able to track the car through Kris’ cell phone and lead officers to him in Mercer County, ND. We don’t have more details right now but will work with authorities to properly inform the public.”

Kevin Cramer
Sen. Kevin Cramer (X @ SenKevinCramer)

Continuing, the Senator wrote, “I will take the first flight I can to be with our family as we grieve what has happened. We grieve especially for the family of the hero who tried to help Ian, and we pray for our gracious God to show up as He always does in tragedy. We ask the public for prayers for the lost officer’s family and colleagues who serve us every day and are grateful for all they do for us.”

In conclusion, he said, “We also ask God for healing for Ian. We love him and hurt deeply.”

Deputy Martin was an 18-year veteran of the sheriff’s office. He is survived by his wife and three children, MRT News reported. He is also survived by at least one grandchild, according to the Facebook post by MCSO.

North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum directed government facilities to fly flags at half-staff in honor of Deputy Martin until sunset on the day he is interred. He also encouraged residents to do the same as the county and state mourn the loss.


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