Fiery crash leads to arrest of Austin man Sunday morning

Published 4:05 pm Monday, May 2, 2022

A man involved in a fiery, one-vehicle crash early Sunday morning has been arrested.

Melchor Nmn Barnabas, 23, is currently in Mower County Jail pending case review.

According to a press release from Austin Police Chief David McKichan, officers attempted to stop a white Chevrolet Silverado at around 3:20 a.m. Sunday morning for several traffic violations in the 500 block of Oakland Avenue West.

Part of the vehicle that was sheered off. The rest of the vehicle can be seen on the frontage road next to Oakland Avenue West. Photo courtesy of the Austin Police Department

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The Silverado, later determined to be driven by Barnabas, hit speeds of 50-55 mph, however, the vehicle then accelerated to over 70 mph in a 30 mph one-way on Oakland Avenue West.

Officers called off the attempt to stop the vehicle due to speed and erratic driving, however, despite shutting off lights and siren, the truck continued to flee at a high rate of speed, going through a red light at 14th Street West and just missed an SUV that was crossing West Oakland Avenue southbound on a green.

Barnabas lost control as the vehicle entered the 1600 block of West Oakland Avenue, and headed into the south ditch toward Banfield Elementary School. As he attempted to overcorrect, Barnabas lost control and exited the roadway into the north ditch, striking a tree.

“The impact was such that it sheared most of the rear of the truck off,” McKichan said in the release. “The truck ended up on the parallel frontage road facing the opposite direction of the way it had been traveling. “

The truck erupted into flames and airbags were deployed. Officers couldn’t identify if anybody was still in the vehicle, leaving officers to think he may have been ejected. However, after the flames subsided, officers noticed Barnabas face down under the passenger side dashboard and removed him through the passenger side door.

The Austin Fire Department and Mayo Ambulance arrived and Barnabas was transported to Mayo Clinic Health Systems-Austin.

Austin police later got a search warrant for a blood draw after suspecting Barnabas to be under the influence, and a Minnesota State Patrol crash reconstructionist also responded.

Barnabas was apprehended on Monday morning, at his home, after being released from the hospital and was transported to jail.

According to the release, this was just one of seven suspected driving under the influence cases APD handled in roughly a 29-hour period from 11 p.m. on April 29 to 3:20 a.m. on May 1.