WILLMAR -- A 22-year-old Willmar man made his first court appearance Monday on drunken driving charges for allegedly drinking and then driving a vehicle that almost hit a city snowplow early Christmas morning.
Edwin Efrain Castellon Lopez was arrested after a snowplow driver called police to report he had nearly struck an oncoming vehicle on Trott Avenue. Lopez was located by police and public works officials nearby after his vehicle got stuck in the snow. His blood-alcohol level was 0.21, according to police reports.
Lopez faces two gross misdemeanor counts of driving while impaired, plus misdemeanor charges of careless driving and driving without a license. Unconditional bail was set at $12,000 with conditional release allowed on his personal recognizance. His next appearance in Kandiyohi County District Court is Jan. 4.
According to the court file, Willmar police officers were called around 7:15 a.m. Friday to investigate a report that a vehicle had almost struck a snowplow. They arrived, found a Chevy Blazer stuck in a snowbank and, with the assistance of public works personnel, lo-cated the driver, Lopez, walking away from the vehicle.
He was given a preliminary breath test, which showed a blood-alcohol level of 0.09 and he was arrested. Lopez allegedly admitted to driving, said that he had drunk five beers and that he did not remember seeing a snow plow.
The plow driver told police he was eastbound on Trott Avenue, while the Blazer was westbound and driving out of control. He said the vehicle's wheels were spinning, it was sliding sideways and was in his traffic lane twice. The driver reported putting the wing blade down to stop the plow and driving onto the boulevard to avoid the oncoming vehicle.