By Dan Nienaber
Free Press Staff Writer
NORTH MANKATO — A KEYC news anchor who implied that a bumbling broadcast was the result of her being sick and on medication has been arrested for suspicion of driving while intoxicated.
Annie Stensrud, 28, was arrested Wednesday. She was taken to the Sheriff’s Department before being sent to a detoxification center in New Ulm, where she allegedly had a blood-alcohol concentration of .23 when she arrived about three hours after her arrest. The legal limit for driving in Minnesota is .08.
Stensrud’s arrest came two weeks after a video of her verbally stumbling through a broadcast logged hundreds of thousands of hits on YouTube. Many viewers speculated Stensrud was intoxicated during the Sunday, Dec. 4, evening newscast because her eyes were blurry and her words were slurred and mixed up.
Talk show host David Letterman used the video to introduce a top 10 list titled “Top 10 Signs Your Local News Team is Drunk.” Letterman’s show is on CBS and KEYC is a CBS affiliate.
Denny Wahlstrom, KEYC general manager, later told a reporter Stensrud had not been drinking but was having a bad reaction to medication.
Wahlstrom didn’t return a telephone call from The Free Press Thursday, but the station reported he would not be commenting on the “personnel matter” at this time.
It was around noon Wednesday when an anonymous caller reported an intoxicated person was leaving an apartment at 1608 Village Court. The caller said the woman was leaving in a green Honda Civic and provided a license plate number, a North Mankato police report said.
North Mankato Police Chief Chris Boyer, who was in an unmarked squad car, started following the Honda on Commerce Drive. It turned north on Lor Ray Drive, then east on the Highway 14 entrance ramp.
Boyer reported the car’s right tires hit a curb before traveling down the ramp. After the car was on the highway, the driver was traveling completely in the shoulder lane for about 200 yards. The car swerved toward the center of the two lanes of eastbound traffic before tailgating a pickup truck. When Boyer turned his lights and sirens on, other vehicles pulled over, but the Honda kept going. A short time later a Nicollet County deputy arrived to take over and pulled the Honda over just before Mankato’s Riverfront Drive exit.
A petition to have Stensrud released from the Brown County Evaluation Center in New Ulm was filed Thursday by Stensrud’s attorney, Jim Fleming. The petition said she was brought to the Sheriff’s Department at about 1 p.m. and arrived at the detoxification center at about 4 p.m.
Staff at the center initially said Stensrud would be kept there for between 36 and 72 hours. Although Stensrud had a blood-alcohol concentration of .23 when she arrived at the center, a staff member told Fleming she could be released because the alcohol was out of her system. Nicollet County District Court Judge Allison Krehbiel approved the petition, which said Stensrud would be driven home by her father.
Stensrud has not been on camera at KEYC since the Dec. 4 broadcast. A message Stensrud had on her KEYC Facebook page Monday said: “Thank you everybody for your words of support:) I hope to see you all as soon as possible!”