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Man accused of driving under the influence in fatal Hubbard County crash makes initial appearance

Robert McGrath

PARK RAPIDS - Robert McGrath made an initial appearance Tuesday on two vehicular homicide charges stemming from a fatal highway accident last week.

McGrath had just been released from Innovis Health Center in Fargo. He appeared in Hubbard County District Court.

The Jan. 21 accident between Park Rapids and Nevis on Highway 34 resulted in the death of 53-year-old Dale McDougall of Hitterdal.

Authorities say McGrath, formerly of Akeley and now listing a Minneapolis address, was under the influence when his pickup veered across the centerline of the roadway and struck McDougall's in the opposing lane of traffic.

According to the criminal complaint, State Patrol trooper Dion Pederson observed that "McGrath's speech was slurred and his face was flushed. Trooper Pederson asked McGrath if he had drank alcohol prior to the crash and McGrath admitted he had,

"When the Trooper asked McGrath how much he had to drink, McGrath responded, 'More than I should have,'" the complaint stated.

McGrath faces two counts of Criminal Vehicular Homicide and Injury. One count states he was driving with an alcohol content of .08 percent or higher.

He also faces a charge of Second Degree Driving While Intoxicated.

The criminal complaint indicates McGrath has two prior alcohol-related convictions in the last 10 years: a DWI in 2001 and an Implied Consent charge in 2003.

McGrath was also convicted of DWI in 1992.

McGrath currently is in the Hubbard County Correctional Center. Bond was set at $150,000 if he's released without conditions, or $100,000 if standard conditions are met. Those conditions are that he be law-abiding, refrain from alcohol use or entering liquor establishments, submit to random alcohol testing and wear an electronic monitoring device.

His next court appearance is set for Feb. 9. The criminal vehicular homicide charges carry a maximum of 10 years in jail and/or a $20,000 fine upon conviction. The DWI charge is punishable by a maximum of one year in jail and/or a $3,000 fine.