Forest Lake Police Sgt. Kurt Kowarsch died from a crash while operating a UTV on Saturday, Aug. 21, at a cabin in Swiss, Wisconsin.
Kowarsch was on his UTV when it left the trail and struck a tree, later igniting in fire. Authorities say Kowarsch died before the UTV ignited. As of Tuesday, Burnett County authorities were waiting for complete autopsy results.
Kowarsch was an officer with Forest Lake since 2007 and was promoted to sergeant in 2011. He worked as a patrol officer, field training officer, SWAT team member, use-of-force instructor, firearms instructor, detective, patrol sergeant, Toward Zero Deaths supervisor, use-of-force supervisor, firearms supervisor, and training supervisor. He also volunteered at many of the community events, including Shop with a Cop, events with the Special Olympics, and Forest Lake Safety Camp.
“Kurt was a fantastic patrol officer and an exemplary supervisor,” Chief Richard Peterson said. “He will be deeply missed by all of us at the Forest Lake Police Department and by the Forest Lake community as a whole.”
Prior to working in Forest Lake, he also was employed by the Annandale Police Department and the Washington County Sheriff’s office.
In January 2010, Kowarsch experienced a similar crash when he was seriously injured while operating his snowmobile in Center City when it went off trail and struck a tree. He was transported to North Memorial Hospital and was treated in the ICU. He made a full recovery and continued to work at the Forest Lake Police Department. Alcohol was not believed to be a factor in that accident.
He is survived by his wife, Ashley, a former Forest Lake police officer and current Woodbury police officer; daughter Lauren; and parents Steve and Mary. He is preceded in death by his daughter Brooke Elizabeth, who died at 8 months old.