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State trooper appears on a felony charge in drunken driving crash

WILLMAR -- The off-duty Minnesota State Patrol trooper accused of driving while impaired, texting and causing an injury crash Tuesday near Litchfield made his first court appearance Thursday.

Scott Charles Urdahl, 40, of Darwin, faces a felony charge of criminal vehicular homicide or operation for causing the injuries of the other driver in the crash.

Urdahl was released on his personal recognizance, ordered to submit to alcohol monitoring and not drive if his license is not valid.

His next appearance is April 20 in Meeker County District Court.

According to the complaint and information from the Minnesota Department of Public Safety, Urdahl was arrested for driving while impaired after the crash, which happened around 9:30 p.m. Tuesday along U.S. Highway 12 in Darwin Township, about two miles east of Litchfield. He allegedly admitted that he was texting when his vehicle crossed the center line of the highway.

Urdahl was driving a personal vehicle, a Chevy Silverado, westbound and crossed over the center-line and collided with an eastbound vehicle, a Buick Century driven by Carrie Nickel, 57, of Litchfield. She was treated at Meeker Memorial Hospital for cuts to her head and finger and for chest pain and was released.

According to the criminal complaint, Nickel and a witness said that Urdahl's vehicle crossed into the eastbound lane and struck the oncoming vehicle. Another State Patrol trooper responding to the crash noticed Urdahl exhibited signs of alcohol consumption and the responding trooper administered field sobriety tests. A preliminary breath test showed a blood-alcohol level of 0.112 percent. The threshold for DWI in Minnesota is 0.08 percent. A blood sample was also taken from Urdahl at Meeker Memorial Hospital.

Urdahl allegedly admitted to drinking six drinks at the American Legion, that he felt the effects of the alcohol and that it had affected his ability to drive.

According to the Department of Public Safety, Urdahl has served as a state trooper since May 1998. He has been placed on unpaid status pending the outcome of a criminal and internal investigation.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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