Man charged in fatal car accident; Believed to be under the influence

Published 9:56 am Friday, May 10, 2019

An Austin man involved in a motor vehicle accident that left one dead has received criminal charges.

Christopher Robert Stewart, 31

Christopher Robert Stewart, 31, was charged with felony criminal vehicular homicide-operate vehicle in a negligent manner while under the influence of a controlled substance, misdemeanor fourth-degree DWI-under the influence of a controlled substance and misdemeanor driving after revocation of his license on Friday in Mower County District Court.

According to the court complaint, Mower County deputies were dispatched at 5:17 p.m. on Thursday to a two-vehicle accident at the intersection of County Roads 28 and 29 in Austin Township. A 2001 Ford F-350 and a 1998 Dodge Caravan were involved.

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The driver of the Dodge, a male resident of Mower County, was pronounced dead on the scene.

A deputy asked for a driver’s license from Stewart, but a female at the scene, who was also the Ford’s owner, said he did not have one. A review of Stewart’s record reflected his license status is “revoked.”

The deputy asked Stewart what happened and the woman again answered for Stewart, saying the Dodge “blew the stop sign.” Stewart agreed, saying he was driving north on County Road 29 at 48-52 miles per hour. He also indicated the Dodge never stopped at the stop sign.

While speaking to Stewart, the deputy noticed his pupils were dilated and slow to react to light. In addition, Stewart had red sores on his face and made rapid body movements. The deputy suspected he was under the influence of drugs.

The deputy then spoke to a Minnesota State Trooper, who said a witness told him the Ford “flew past” him at a high rate of speed. The witness said he was driving north at about 50 miles per hour when the Ford passed him. The deputy told Stewart what the witness said, and Stewart claimed the witness was “going like 35 miles per hour” and he passed him at 52 miles per hour, then slowed for the curve.

The deputy then asked Stewart about his drug use. Stewart said he had smoked methamphetamine about a month ago, had used marijuana more recently, and did not use any prescription medication. The deputy had Stewart perform five field sobriety tests, three of which he failed. Stewart then said he had taken an Adderall. The deputy explained that he believed Stewart had used drugs in the previous two days and Stewart agreed. The deputy then arrested Stewart.

The Austin Fire Department and Mayo Clinic Ambulance also responded to the scene.

At the Mower County Jail, the deputy obtained a search warrant for a blood sample from Stewart. The sample was then sent to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension laboratory for analysis.

A review of Stewart’s criminal record shows prior convictions for theft and numerous traffic violations.

Stewart will appear in court again on May 23.