BEMIDJI – A 44-year-old Bemidji man faces a felony and gross misdemeanor for a Friday night crash at the intersection of Irvine Avenue and U.S. Highway 71.
Michael Douglas Perry appeared Tuesday in Beltrami County District Court on two counts of criminal vehicular operation.
A Beltrami County Sheriff’s Office news release said deputies arrived at the crash scene, about five miles north of Bemidji, to find Eric Nelson, 48, of Redby trapped inside a Jeep Wrangler.
Deputies removed Nelson by tearing off the Jeep’s roof and releasing him from his seat belt. Nelson sustained several injuries and was taken to Sanford Bemidji Medical Center to be treated.
The news release said Nelson was returning home from work when his Perry’s vehicle crashed into Nelson’s Jeep. After Perry was treated for injuries, he was booked into the Beltrami County Jail.
According to a criminal complaint filed in court:
A deputy arrived about 11:45 p.m. Friday at the crash scene, where it appeared a Jeep had been hit from behind by a Mercury Marquis sedan.
The driver of the Jeep, which was on its side against the west bridge decking, appeared to sustain extensive facial and head injuries. The deputy immediately called an ambulance to the scene.
The deputy then checked on the driver of the sedan, later to be identified as Perry.
Perry also reported injuries and “claimed that the driver of the Jeep pulled out immediately in front of him, causing the accident on the bridge,” according to the complaint.
The complaint also states:
Perry told the deputy he had drank about five beers and was on his way home when the crash happened.
Another motorist reported the sedan passed him about a half mile before the crash scene and was traveling in excess of 80 mph.
Nelson told law enforcement he had stopped at the Irvine Avenue exit from northbound Highway 71 when he observed two northbound vehicles. He waited for the first vehicle to pass and believed there was significant distance between himself and the second vehicle. Nelson drove onto northbound Irvine Avenue and heard the “screeching of brakes and tires” before his vehicle was struck.
The complaint said the impact of the crash pushed Nelson’s vehicle into the other lane and against the guard rail.
First responders from the Bemidji Fire Department, Bemidji Ambulance, Bemidji police and Minnesota State Patrol assisted in responding to the crash.
On Tuesday, a judge set bail for Perry at $10,000.
If convicted, the felony charge carries a maximum of up to three years in prison and a $10,000 fine. The gross misdemeanor carries a maximum of one year in jail and $3,000 fine.