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Benson man pleads to charge for hitting pedestrians with pickup

BENSON -- Calvin Lee Woodin, 22, of Benson, pleaded guilty Wednesday to criminal vehicular operation for the Feb. 26 drunken driving crash where his pickup struck three teenage pedestrians in Benson.

As part of a plea agreement in Swift County District Court, two additional felonies and six gross misdemeanor counts of criminal vehicular operation, two counts of gross misdemeanor driving while impaired and misdemeanor charges of open bottle were dismissed. Woodin will be sentenced June 27.

According to Swift County Attorney Robin Finke, Woodin will be placed on probation for up to three years, may face jail time and may receive a stay of imposition on his sentence.

According to the complaint, when Woodin lost control of his pickup and struck three teenagers in Benson, he had a blood alcohol content of 0.144 and was drinking vodka while driving before the crash. The DWI threshold is 0.08 percent.

A witness saw Woodin running from the scene of the crash near the intersection of State Highway 29 and U.S. Highway 12 in Benson. Law enforcement officers found him hiding in a closet of a residence along Nevada Avenue.

The three teens, Dillion Groebner, 16, Gregory Boley, 18, and Brandon Fifield, 16, were transported by ambulance to Swift County-Benson Hospital and were treated for pain in their limbs, cuts and bruises. One of the teens also had a chip-ped tooth.

According to the complaint, a Be-nson police officer and a Benson am-bulance se-rvice member were the first people on the scene. One teen was unconscious, one was lying in a snowbank and the other standing between the two. A woman left sitting in the pickup said Woodin was driving and drinking vodka, that he was "really drunk" and that he ran away. The ambulance crew member also saw the driver run from the scene.

Benson police officers and Swift County sheriff's deputies followed the man's footprints in the snow to a home on Kansas Avenue, where no one answered the door.

They then went to a residence on Nevada Avenue, where the owner let them search the home. An officer followed the smell of alcohol to Woodin, who was hiding in a closet under a pile of clothing, bedding and pillows.

The woman gave a statement to police that she let Woodin drive because he became violent and was scaring her. She said the pickup was going about 40 mph, started to fishtail, hit a sign and then the three boys. She also said he asked her to get in the driver's seat after the crash.

Woodin has a previous driving while impaired conviction in September 2007 in Chippewa County.

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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