UPDATE: Alleged drunken drivers charged with feloniesTwo men face criminal charges in connection with remarkably similar crashes that happened two weeks apart at a town of Hudson intersection. Authorities say both men were drunk when they drove through a red stop light on Hwy. 12 and crashed into cars that were making left turns from Badlands Road onto the highway.
By: Randy Hanson, Hudson Star-Observer
Two men face criminal charges in connection with remarkably similar crashes that happened two weeks apart at a town of Hudson intersection.
Authorities say both men were drunk when they drove through a red stop light on Hwy. 12 and crashed into cars that were making left turns from Badlands Road onto the highway.
Gregory L. Sanderson, 47, 843 Hillside Trail, Hudson, is charged with two felonies and two misdemeanors in connection with a March 29 accident that resulted in grave injuries to 19-year-old Timothy Casa De Calvo III of Hudson.
Sanderson faces felony counts of causing injury by intoxicated driving and causing great bodily harm by negligent driving in connection with Casa De Calvo’s injuries.
He’s charged with a misdemeanor count of causing injury by negligent driving as a result of minor cuts sustained by Casa De Calvo’s 8-year-old sister, who was a passenger in the car.
Sanderson also is charged with second-offense drunken driving, a misdemeanor, and refusing to submit to a blood-alcohol test.
Law enforcement officers said Sanderson smelled of alcohol and had slurred speech when they talked to him after the crash.
A preliminary breath test showed that he had a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.139, according to the criminal complaint. The legal limit is 0.08.
The combined maximum penalty for all of the charges that Sanderson faces is 18 years, six months of imprisonment and $38,100 in fines.
Sanderson is out of jail after posting a $20,000 cash bond last week. His preliminary hearing on the charges was Wednesday.
Casa De Calvo’s condition
Timothy Casa De Calvo remains in the critical care unit at Regions Hospital in St. Paul.
He was airlifted from the accident scene to the hospital.
He suffered severe abdominal injuries, as well as skull, rib and pelvic fractures.
According to his caringbridge.org Web site, he has undergone multiple surgeries to repair damage to his bladder, colon, spleen, kidneys, diaphragm and liver.
Billie Jo Barker, Casa De Calvo’s mother, said Friday that it hadn’t been a good day for her son.
“It’s normal that we’re going to have some bad days and some good days,” Barker said. “He was doing well up until today.”
The medical staff was trying to determine the reason for a spike in Casa De Calvo’s temperature and an increase in his brain pressure.
Barker is asking the individuals in two vehicles who are believed to have witnessed the crash to call the sheriff’s department at (715) 381-4320.
She thinks they can provide additional information about how it happened. The accident occurred at about 8:40 p.m. Sunday, March 29.
March 14 crash
David A. Solfest, 40, 455 Jensen Lane, Hudson, was charged last week with three felonies in connection with a March 14 accident in which a 30-year-old Hudson man was badly injured.
Solfest is accused of causing injury by intoxicated driving, first-degree reckless endangerment of safety and reckless driving causing great bodily harm.
The charges carry a combined maximum penalty 38 years, six months in prison and $60,000 in fines.
The similarity of the March 14 crash to the March 29 crash is striking.
Jake Kincade, 654 Badlands Road, was making a left turn from Badlands Road onto southbound Hwy. 12 when Solfest allegedly came through a red light and struck Kincade’s car on the driver’s door with the front of his SUV.
Both Kincade and Solfest were airlifted from the scene to Regions Hospital in St. Paul.
Kincade suffered a skull fracture, bleeding on the brain, a neck fracture, a lacerated spleen and much bruising in the crash.
Solfest told a sheriff’s deputy who responded to the accident that he thought he had a broken arm.
The deputy reported that Solfest’s eyes were bloodshot and watery, his speech was slurred and he smelled of alcohol.
Sanderson is believed to have been at City Limits Bar & Grill prior to the crash. Solfest's vehicle reportedly was parked at the bar earlier in the evening of March 14.
St. Croix County Sheriff Dennis Hillstead said the sheriff’s department is looking into “all aspects” of both crashes, including the events that led up to them.
He said the sheriff’s department has obtained videotapes from City Limits showing Sanderson inside the bar.
Asked whether there is a problem with the intersection of Hwy. 12 and Badlands Road that led to the crashes, the sheriff replied: “I don’t know that there is a problem with the intersection. There’s a problem with drunks driving through it. That’s the problem.”