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Driver charged in 2012 crash that killed Cannon Falls man

Six months after a one-vehicle crash killed a Cannon Falls man near New Trier, the Minnesota State Patrol has charged a Hampton man in connection with the crash.

Keri James Gesme, 27, has been charged with criminal vehicular homicide (driving with a blood-alcohol concentration of .08 or more), criminal vehicular homicide (negligence) and criminal vehicular homicide (grossly negligent). All three charges are felonies and carry a maximum sentence of up to 10 years on conviction.

The crash was reported shortly after 2:30 p.m. Nov. 8, 2012, on Highway 50 just outside of New Trier. When officers arrived, they found a truck on its driver's side in the yard of a residence. It appeared the truck had become airborne before striking two trees. A deceased male, later identified as Dennis Paul Underwood, 27, was found lying by one of the trees. Another male was found lying about 75 feet west of where the truck landed. This male was subsequently identified as Gesme. He told one of the officers he was the owner of the truck involved in the crash . He said he did not remember anything and he was not driving. An officer smelled a strong odor of alcohol on Gesme's breath. He was transported to a hospital for treatment.

A witness told officers that he heard a truck leave right across from his house in Hampton Township. He said the truck was accelerating and he heard the truck's wheels squealing when it shifted gears. He then heard a tire screech and a loud crash.

A group of four people arrived at the scene and identified themselves as relatives of Gesme. They said the truck belonged to Gesme and he is the only one who drives it.

A blood sample was taken from Gesme at Regions Hospital in St. Paul and it indicated an alcohol concentration of .20.

The Minnesota State Patrol conducted an accident reconstruction investigation. It indicated that Gesme was the driver of the vehicle at the time of the crash and the vehicle was traveling between 83 and 106 miles per hour when it went airborne and struck the first tree. It further indicated that Underwood's fatal injuries were a result of his impact with a tree after being ejected from the truck.