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Truck driver charged with criminal vehicular homicide

WILLMAR — A truck driver faces a felony charge of criminal vehicular homicide or operation — operate a motor vehicle in a grossly negligent manner — for allegedly rear-ending a vehicle and severely injuring a passenger in it.

Michael Smith, 37, of Melrose, was released on his own recognizance following a July 29 arraignment on the felony charge in Kandiyohi County. He also faces a misdemeanor careless driving charge.

The criminal complaint alleges that he was driving a tractor-trailer on U.S. Highway 71 and approaching the intersection with County Road 29 in Kandiyohi County around 12:45 p.m. on May 31.

Casey Jenny, 25, of New London, was stopped or nearly stopped in a 2006 Chevrolet pickup while waiting for traffic to clear to make a left turn.

Jenny saw a 2003 International semi driven by Smith approaching at a high rate of speed. Realizing the truck would be unable to stop, Jenny accelerated in an attempt to avoid the collision, but was unable to do so, the complaint stated.

The semi struck the pickup. Passenger Matthew Moen, 24, of Reynolds, N.D., suffered a broken neck and back in the impact, according to the complaint. 

Tom Cherveny

Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoor reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar, MN.

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