A surgeon who was hired by St. Anthony Regional Hospital early this year was arrested early this morning for driving a sport-utility vehicle drunk through a set of driveway gates of a rural Panora house, “tearing around” the yard and later fleeing from a police officer, according to court documents.
Nicholas Josef Kuiper, 41, is charged with felony criminal mischief and misdemeanor eluding and operating while intoxicated. The felony is punishable by up to five years in prison if he is convicted.
The owner of the rural Panora house — a local attorney there — reported about 1:10 a.m. that a Hummer H2 had crashed through the gates and was driving through his yard in the 2800 block of Iowa Highway 44, just west of Panora.
A surveillance video recording shows “the vehicle slowly pull up to the gates and then drives through the gates on the way in ... completely damaging them,” according to a criminal complaint. “Kuiper stops the Hummer in the driveway in front of the garage and just sits in the Hummer. The Hummer then drives through landscaping next to the driveway and into the yard of the residence.”
A Panora police officer found Kuiper asleep in the vehicle about 30 minutes later on the east side of Panora. The officer rapped on Kuiper’s driver-side window several times to rouse him, court records show.
“I advised Kuiper to shut the vehicle off,” the criminal complaint says. “Kuiper started to reach up like he was going to take off and I advised him to stop. Kuiper put the vehicle in drive and took off.”
Kuiper allegedly fled the officer for about a mile on Highway 44 before he stopped the vehicle and was arrested.
A test of his breath determined his blood-alcohol concentration was .201 percent, which is more than double the legal limit to drive.