In a three-month period, from May through July, five people died in four alcohol-related traffic crashes in Crow Wing County.
And criminal charges were filed in connection with three of the fatal crashes.
On May 19, Kenneth Foster died as a result of injuries suffered in a two-vehicle collision the day before. Foster was a passenger in a vehicle driven by Mark Martin Bundgaard, 27, Crosslake. Bundgaard faces two counts of criminal vehicular homicide while drinking and driving.
On June 13, Jackie Saddler, 20, Nisswa, was killed after the vehicle she was a passenger in struck another vehicle on Crow Wing County Road 4, south of Breezy Point. Annie Bahr, the 20-year-old Pine River woman who was driving the vehicle in which Saddler was a passenger and who had been drinking, faces five criminal charges in the matter, including two counts of criminal vehicular homicide.
On July 4, both drivers were killed in a two-vehicle collision on Crow Wing County Road 12, near Deerwood. One victim, Helene Kelcher, 70, Pillager, was pronounced dead at the scene. The other victim, Gary Steinmetz, 61, Deerwood, died at the Hennepin County Medical Center. Crow Wing County Sheriff Eric Klang said preliminary autopsy results showed Steinmetz had been drinking.
On July 7, Joseph Jordan, 16, was killed on Highway 371 in Pequot Lakes after the car he was driving collided head-on with a vehicle driven by Matthew Raymond Smoot, 25, Pequot Lakes. Smoot tested positive for alcohol, and faces several charges in Crow Wing County District Court, including second-degree unintentional murder, second-degree manslaughter, felony DUI, criminal vehicular homicide while under the influence of alcohol, criminal vehicular operation and driving after license cancellation.
The criminal cases against Bahr, Bundgaard and Smoot are pending in Crow Wing County District Court.
MATT ERICKSON can be reached at email@example.com or 855-5857.
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