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Northeast Minnesota man charged with vehicular homicide for drunken ATV crash

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. — A Cohasset man admitted to having approximately 15 alcoholic drinks in the hours before he crashed his ATV into a power pole, killing a friend, according to court documents.

Authorities said 21-year-old Joseph Jeffrey Riley registered a blood-alcohol concentration nearly twice the legal limit after the incident that killed Dylan Robert Christy and injured Alexander Michael Rajala, both 21 and of Grand Rapids.

Riley allegedly told deputies he swerved to avoid a deer when the crash occurred shortly after 2 a.m. Saturday on County Road 459 south of Cohasset. He acknowledged that he spent the night drinking at a number of bars around Grand Rapids, according to a criminal complaint.

The Itasca County Sheriff's Office was dispatched to the crash at 2:17 a.m. A deputy and ambulance crew attended to Christy, who was airlifted to Essentia Health-St. Mary's Medical Center in Duluth, where he was pronounced dead.

Riley was uninjured. Rajala, who suffered a leg strain and some bruises and scrapes, was treated at Grand Itasca Hospital.

Riley was arraigned Tuesday, May 14, in State District Court in Grand Rapids on a felony charge of criminal vehicular homicide and a gross misdemeanor count of criminal vehicular operation.

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