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Criminal charges filed in Meeker County fatal crash

Blake Lee Ahlbrecht

LITCHFIELD — A Grove City man faces multiple charges, including criminal vehicular homicide, in connection with a fatal crash May 4 at a highway intersection north of Grove City.

Blake Lee Ahlbrecht, 60, made an appearance Monday in Meeker County District Court.

He is alleged to have been behind the wheel and under the influence of alcohol when his van failed to stop at a stop sign and collided with a semi at the intersection of Minnesota Highway 4 and Meeker County Highway 16.

A passenger in the back seat of the van, 57-year-old Steven Delmer Schmidt of Atwater, died in the crash. The driver of the semi, Gary Dettman, 72, of Stewart, was trapped inside his truck and was taken to St. Cloud Hospital with injuries.

Ahlbrecht and a second passenger in the van, Elgene Wayne Mahn, 64, of Atwater, were not injured.

According to court documents, witnesses said Dettman had no time to brake before the impact. The semi was southbound on Highway 4 and the van was westbound on County Road 16.

Ahlbrecht is charged with criminal vehicular homicide and criminal vehicular operation. Both are felonies. He also faces two misdemeanor charges, leaving the scene of a fatal crash and open bottle.

According to the criminal complaint, law enforcement officers who responded to the scene of the crash found numerous beer cans inside the van and scattered in the ditch. A witness reported seeing someone, later identified as Ahlbrecht, leave the van after the crash and start walking south. A Meeker County deputy found Ahlbrecht crawling on his hands and knees in a cow pasture south of the scene of the crash, the complaint said.

Ahlbrecht allegedly failed field sobriety tests that were administered. The court complaint said a preliminary breath test put his alcohol concentration at 0.08 percent. He was arrested after the crash and held in custody in the Meeker County Jail.

He has a previous DWI conviction in Meeker County in 2010.

Anne Polta

Anne Polta covers health care, business/economic development and general assignment. Her HealthBeat blog can be found at http://healthbeat.areavoices.com. Follow her on Twitter at @AnnePolta.

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