Charges: Brainerd man was under the influence of prescription drugs during fatal Baxter crash

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Kevin Kris Christensen was indicted on Friday August 27 by Crow Wing County District Court with two counts of felony homicide while driving for driving a vehicle under the influence and causing serious bodily harm bodily; and two serious offenses of homicide and driving while intoxicated.

Kevin kris christensen

The Baxter Police Department was called in a personal injury accident at 11:45 a.m. at the intersection of Freeway 210 and Cypress Drive. Officers arrived and observed two vehicles – a blue 2003 Chevrolet Silverado and a white 2010 Ford Escape. Christensen was identified as the driver of the Silverado and he was out of the truck, according to the complaint.

Three people were in the Ford Escape, which sustained severe damage to the driver’s side and the driver’s door would not open. The Brainerd Fire Department responded to help free the people inside.

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A Baxter officer observed that the front passenger was picked up by a passerby and was unconscious and unconscious. The driver of the Ford Escape and a rear passenger were identified and the North Memorial Health Ambulance arrived for treatment. All occupants of the Ford Escape suffered numerous lacerations.

The officer spoke to Christensen, who said he was heading east on Highway 210 when he entered the intersection of Cypress Drive. The Escape was heading north on Cypress Drive when it entered the intersection. Christensen said just before entering the intersection his light turned yellow so he crossed the intersection. Christensen believed the Escape had a red light. Christensen said he blocked his brakes. The officer did not note any indications of this on the roadway.

While the officer interacted with Christensen, the driver forgot what the officer was asking him to do, according to the complaint. Christensen then started asking further questions and said he would withdraw his license from his truck even if he had just had his wallet, which was open with his driver’s license clearly visible, according to the complaint. It appeared that Christensen had problems with short-term memory.

When the officer inquired about Christensen’s insurance card, he looked in his wallet and then said it was on his phone in the truck. Christensen started looking for her phone and insurance information. At one point the officer checked his progress and he had a manual for the vehicle in his lap, which was open, and it looked like Christensen was reading it. Christensen asked if the manual was all the officer needed. The officer reminded Christensen that he needed his proof of insurance.

Shortly after, Christensen asked if his driver’s license number would be enough, and the agent again informed him that he needed his insurance information. The officer observed that Christensen continued to have short-term memory problems and later consulted a vehicle manual again instead of proof of insurance. At one point, Christensen gave the agent a medical insurance card, which he believed to be his auto insurance.

The officer admitted that Christensen’s behavior was indicative of intoxication and believed it was possible that he was under the influence of a controlled substance. Christensen denied drinking alcohol and using narcotics. Christensen said that morning that he took the prescribed dose of his prescriptions for methadone and Klonopin.

The officer also spoke to a witness, who was standing at the intersection while waiting to cross the road when the accident occurred. When the vehicles crashed, the witness said he looked up and saw that the lights on Christensen’s side were red and the driver of the Escape had a green light. Another witness who observed the crash said the same, while stating that it did not appear that Christensen tried to brake when he entered the intersection.

Another witness driving directly behind the Ford Escape said the light turned green and the Escape entered the intersection, with Christensen’s truck also entering and crashing directly into the Escape. The witness stated that he did not hear a vehicle horn or the screeching of brake tires.

The officer administered a field sobriety test to Christensen. Christensen referred to a previous injury from 2001, including nerve damage, but said he could likely walk in a straight line.

Christensen got into the starting position for the walk and turn test, when he lost his balance and began to fall. Due to Christensen’s medical history, the officer did not administer the standing and walking and rotating tests on one leg.

The officer explained the “modified Romberg test,” which Christensen said understands and is administered to determine balance. Towards the end of Christensen’s test, he began to lean back enough that the officer thought he was going to fall, according to the complaint. Christensen completed the test and was subsequently arrested.

The officer informed Christensen that he believed methadone and Klonopin were affecting him and may have contributed to the crash. Christensen said: “I believe so,” the complaint said.

Christensen was transported to Essentia Health-St. Joseph’s Medical Center in Brainerd and the officer obtained a search warrant for a sample of Christensen’s blood.

At the hospital, the officer learned that the driver and front passenger had been airlifted to trauma centers and were in critical condition. Later that day, police learned that the front passenger had died of injuries sustained in the crash, according to the complaint. The rear passenger is receiving ongoing medical treatment in a hospital setting and suffered lacerations in the accident. The identities of those injured in the crash remained unavailable Friday afternoon, pending notification of family members.

A review of Christensen’s case reflects a previous DWI conviction in 2015.

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UPDATE: This story has been corrected to indicate that it was the front passenger who died in the crash.

La Dépêche regrets the error.


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