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Willmar man faces charges for drunken driving, crash

WILLMAR -- Jason Curtis Stephens, 23, of Willmar, made his first court appearance Thursday on charges of criminal vehicular operation and driving while impaired for allegedly driving a vehicle that crashed and burned in the early morning hours of July 30 in rural New London.

Stephens was released on his personal recognizance. His next appearance is Dec. 22 in Kandiyohi County District Court.

According to the complaint, sheriff's deputies were dispatched around 2:15 a.m. July 30 to the intersection of County Roads 5 and 9 on a report that a vehicle was burning in the ditch.

The first deputy arrived and found two men, including Stephens, outside of the vehicle, which was engulfed in flames. Stephens, who smelled of alcohol, reported he had fallen asleep at the wheel. The vehicle had been southbound on County Road 5, gone through the intersection with County Road 9 and crashed through a guardrail, signs and trees into the ditch.

Both Stephens and his passenger were taken to Rice Memorial Hospital for treatment of injuries. A preliminary breath test showed Stephens had a blood alcohol level of 0.12 percent. A blood test analyzed by the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension showed a blood alcohol concentration of 0.11 percent. The legal limit for driving is 0.08.

The passenger reported that he didn't remember what had happened, only that they went to Waterama Days in Glenwood and that he had fallen asleep, only to wake when Stephens was telling him to get out of the car because it was on fire. The man's injuries included a compression fracture of his vertebrae.

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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