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Man sentenced in fatal Hampton Township crash

Keri James Gesme, 28, Hampton, will spend 365 days in the Dakota County Jail, serve 10 years of probation, and pay a $700 fine in connection with a fatal vehicle crash that occurred more than a year ago in Hampton Township. On March 27, Judge Karen Asphaug announced the sentence for Gesme, who had pleaded guilty in December to one charge of criminal vehicular homicide (felony) in connection with the crash that killed Dennis Paul Underwood, 27, Cannon Falls. Two additional counts of criminal vehicular homicide were dismissed.

The Nov. 8, 2012, crash occurred on Highway 50 just outside of New Trier. When officers and medics arrived at the scene, they found a truck lying on its driver’s side in the yard of a residence. A deceased male was lying near a tree. He was identified as Underwood. Another male, identified as Gesme, was found about 75 feet west of where the truck landed.

Gesme told one of the officers that he was the owner of the truck involved in the crash. He said he did not remember anything about the crash, but he said that he was not driving. The 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 from right across from his house and that it was accelerating quickly as it left. He heard the truck’s wheels squeal when the truck shifted gears. He soon heard tires screech and then a loud crash.

A blood sample was taken from Gesme at Regions Hospital, St. Paul, and it indicated an alcohol concentration of .20, which is more than twice the legal driving limit. Various areas of the truck were swabbed and DNA samples from both Gesme and Underwood were submitted to the BCA. The analysis revealed that Underwood’s blood was on the passenger side.

A Minnesota State Patrol reconstruction revealed that Gesme was the driver and that he was driving up to 106 miles per hour when the truck went airborne and struck the first tree. The reconstruction also concluded that Underwood’s fatal injuries were a result of his impact with a tree after he was ejected from the truck.