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Detroit Lakes man faces charges in fatal July 4 crash

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news Bemidji, 56619
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Bemidji Minnesota P.O. Box 455 56619

A Detroit Lakes, Minn., man faces six felony counts -- including four counts of criminal vehicular homicide -- for allegedly causing a van rollover that killed four people and injured two others on July 4.

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Chad Eric Stewart, 26, was allegedly the driver of the van, which left the roadway and struck a field approach about 2:40 a.m. about 30 miles northeast of Detroit Lakes.

Gregory Norcross, 45; Kayla Norcross, 24; Charlene Norcross, 22; and Scott Adams, 28, all of Ponsford died in the crash.

Injured were Donna Peake, 22, and Amber Goodman, 23, both of Ponsford.

According to court records:

The first deputy to arrive on the scene, Bret Anderson, found four people lying around the van. He checked each for a pulse but found none.

He located Peake and Goodman nearby. They were taken to hospitals in Detroit Lakes and Fargo for treatment. Peake is paralyzed as a result of the accident and Goodman suffers from memory loss.

A deputy spoke with Stewart, who was sitting in the passenger seat of a vehicle driven by Cayle Halberg, who reported the accident. Stewart had abrasions on his legs and blood on his neck and clothing, but he allegedly told the deputy he had not been in the accident and had been riding with Halberg.

Stewart allegedly told the deputy he owned the white 1995 Chevy Lumina van involved in the crash, even though it was registered to Cecilio Reyes.

The deputy then spoke to Halberg, who reported the accident. He said he had been northbound on Becker County Road 37 and had been flagged down by Stewart, who had not been riding with him that evening. He said he had Stewart sit in the car while he called for help and that he had never met Stewart before. Stewart allegedly told him he had lost his hearing aids in the crash.

Stewart was transported to St. Mary's Innovis hospital in Detroit Lakes, where his blood alcohol level allegedly tested at 0.15 percent.

Peake was interviewed and allegedly identified Stewart as the driver of the van that morning.

Other people were interviewed who allegedly said they saw Stewart driving the van with numerous passengers prior to the crash.

Stewart is charged with four serious felony counts of criminal vehicular operation, one felony count of criminal vehicular operation resulting in great bodily harm and a serious felony count of criminal vehicular operation resulting in bodily harm -- driving with an alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more.

He has been arrested and is expected to be arraigned today in Becker County District Court, according to the Becker County Sheriff's Department.

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Pioneer staff reports
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