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36-year-old from Milan pleads to charge from drunk driving accident

GRANITE FALLS -- Jason Jerome Lee, 36, of Milan, pleaded guilty Monday to a gross misdemeanor charge of criminal vehicular operation for a drunken driving crash July 25 near Clarkfield.

A passenger in Lee's vehicle, Melinda Hedman, 32, of Clarkfield, was airlifted to North Memorial Medical Center after the crash and treated for a shattered vertebra in her back, a broken shoulder and facial injuries. Lee was also flown to North Memorial for treatment of his injuries.

According to information from Yellow Medicine County Attorney Keith Helgeson, three felony charges of criminal vehicular operation will be dismissed and Lee will serve 20 days in jail, with 345 days stayed, two years of probation and an $800 fine. Restitution will be reserved in the case. No sentencing date was set.

According to the complaint, Clarkfield police were called around 12:30 a.m. July 25 to a home in the city.

The officer arrived to find Lee and Hedman lying injured in the front yard. Others said they had been in a car that went off the road into a cornfield and had called them for help. Medical responders were summoned and transported the injured to Chippewa County-Montevideo Hospital.

An officer smelled alcohol on Lee, who said he was driving and submitted to a breath test that showed a blood alcohol level of 0.16. A blood test, analyzed by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, showed a BAC of 0.15. The legal limit for driving while impaired is 0.08.

At the scene of the crash, officer found a car about 30 yards into a cornfield, with two open beer cans inside. A reconstruction by the State Patrol determined neither Lee nor Hedman were wearing their seatbelts, that the vehicle was traveling at 60 mph, twice the speed limit of 30 mph and that the driver's illegal alcohol limit was a contributing factor to the crash.

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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