Bemidji woman dies in head-on collision near Leech Lake

Alcohol was determined to be a factor in a Wednesday morning head-on crash near Leech Lake that resulted in the death of a 23-year-old Bemidji woman.

FSA Fatal crash accident

WILKINSON TOWNSHIP -- A 23-year-old Bemidji woman has died from a head-on vehicle crash on Wednesday morning near Leech Lake. Alcohol was determined to be a factor in the accident.

Darlene Mae Johnson, 23, was traveling southbound in a Pontiac Grand Prix on State Highway 371 approaching Oak Point Road when her vehicle collided with a northbound Ford F150 driven by Steven James Lasser, 24, of Roseville, Minn., according to the report from the Minnesota State Patrol.

Investigators said the incident occurred around 1:43 a.m., early on the morning of Wednesday, May 5. Law enforcement responded to the scene, which took place in Wilkinson Township in Cass County, northwest of Leech Lake. Road conditions were dry at the time of the incident.

Lasser’s truck rolled coming to rest on its roof. Johnson’s vehicle came to rest in the west ditch, the report said. Johnson was wearing a seat belt, and her airbag deployed correctly, but she was pronounced dead at the scene.


Lasser was transported to the Sanford Hospital in West Fargo to be treated for life-threatening injuries. According to the report, he was under the influence of alcohol during the incident. No further information has been released regarding his condition.

In addition to the Minnesota State Patrol, members of the Cass County Sheriff’s Department, North Ambulance Air Care, Leech Lake Tribal Police and the Bemidji Police Department also responded to the scene.

Hannah Olson is a multimedia reporter for the Pioneer covering education, Indigenous-centric stories and features.
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