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Lake Park man charged in crash that killed ATV driver

A Lake Park man was allegedly driving more than 90 miles per hour just before his pickup truck struck an ATV from behind, killing the driver, who was thrown or carried more than 340 feet from the point of impact.

Jeremy Scott Nelson, 27, of 17520 County Road 5, Lake Park, on Thursday was charged with three felony counts of criminal vehicular homicide related to the accident in the early morning hours of Aug. 17.

The driver of the ATV, Christopher Wade Carlson, 29, of rural Lake Park, was found dead at the scene of the crash at County Road 1, west of County Road 6.

The accident happened south of Lake Park, but Nelson is being prosecuted in Clay County District Court for routine conflict of interest reasons.

According to the criminal complaint:

The crash was reported about 3 a.m. and a black Chevy truck registered to Nelson was found at the scene, with severe damage to the hood and grill area

Damage to the hood and bumper cover of the truck allegedly coincided with the shock absorbers on the rear axle of the ATV.

The ATV was heavily damaged, with the rear axle snapped off, the battery broken open, the left handlebar severely damaged and the seat broken off.

Deputies could not find the driver of the pickup truck, and began to search for Nelson. They were later contacted by his father and told that he had been located and was being brought to St. Mary's hospital for treatment.

A deputy who went to the hospital and spoke to Nelson allegedly detected a faint odor of alcohol coming from Nelson, and observed his eyes were bloodshot and watery.

His jeans were extremely muddy and his shirt appeared to have blood on it. He had several cuts to his arm.

The deputy took a blood sample, approximately five hours after the accident, and Nelson's blood alcohol level allegedly tested at .05 percent.

The deputy allegedly heard Nelson telling an emergency room doctor that he had been injured in a crash earlier that morning, and had been driving about 60 mph. He had not been wearing a seat belt.

An agent with the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension interviewed several people in a follow-up investigation.

He talked to a man, identified only by the initials K.N.B., who knew both Nelson and Carlson.

The man lives on the 14000 block of County Road 1, Lake Park, about 5 miles south of the accident scene. He said he had been with both Nelson and Carlson the evening of Aug. 16 and morning of Aug. 17 after meeting them at a street dance in Cormorant Village.

The man and his girlfriend were with Carlson at the Cormorant Pub from about 10 p.m. until closing time. He told the investigator that he believed Carlson was intoxicated when he left.

The man also believed that Nelson was drinking that evening, but he didn't know if he was intoxicated.

The man and his girlfriend gave Carlson a ride and dropped him off at home, but a short time later he showed up at the man's home riding his red ATV.

Not long after that, the man said, Nelson also showed up at his house driving his black pickup truck.

Carlson stayed at the man's house for about 5 minutes and then drove off. Nelson left about 5 minutes after that. He was alone, and the man denied any involvement in transporting him away from the accident scene.

A relative of Nelson's reported he showed up at her door, less than 2 miles from the accident scene, shortly after 7 a.m. the morning of the accident.

His clothes were very dirty, and he seemed confused and told her his head hurt. He said he had been in an accident, and been in the woods and a cornfield since the accident. He called other family members, who came over and picked him up.

According to an accident reconstruction by the Minnesota State Patrol, Nelson was driving northbound on County Road 1, about a half-mile south of County Road 6, when his pickup left the pavement and traveled in the south ditch, where his truck struck the ATV.

The truck then went back up onto the pavement, and crossed into the opposite ditch, where it hit a field approach, vaulted over the approach, and came to rest in the far ditch.

The Sensing and Diagnostic Module -- which determines whether to deploy air bags -- was removed from the truck. Data was reviewed and it was determined that the pickup truck was going 94 mph prior to impact.

Just before impact, the truck started rotating counter-clockwise, causing it to decelerate to 88 mph. The SDM determined the Chevy truck was at full throttle 3-5 seconds before the impact and the deployment of the airbags. There was no evidence the pickup braked, either before or after impact.

"The victim's body was either vaulted or carried for some distance on the front of defendant's pickup, and was ultimately found 342 feet from the point if impact of the crash."

Nelson has prior DWI convictions from 1999 and 2002, and has 12 prior speeding convictions dating back to 1997.

Bail recommendation was $100,000 cash or bond.

Becker County District Judge Joe Evans issued an arrest warrant for Nelson on Thursday.

He is charged with three felonies: criminal vehicular homicide -- grossly negligent manner; criminal vehicular homicide -- under the influence; and criminal vehicular homicide -- leaving the scene.