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East metro man charged after Hudson freeway crash

A Minnesota man caused an Interstate 94 crash that left a truck driver injured, and then drove away from the scene, according to charges filed this week in St. Croix County Circuit Court.

Prosecutors allege Inver Grove Heights resident Dylan M. Nelson was intoxicated at the time of the crash, reported early Saturday on the freeway in Hudson. Nelson, 23, made his initial court appearance Monday on one count of felony hit-and-run causing injury and a misdemeanor count of OWI causing injury. St. Croix County Circuit Court Judge Scott Needham set cash bail at $1,500 at the hearing.

A criminal complaint states authorities were looking for a vehicle later identified as Nelson's after the Wisconsin State Patrol took a report of a car speeding out of River Falls on Highway 35 toward the freeway. A trooper allegedly clocked the vehicle going 88 mph in the 65 mph zone on Highway 35 as it approached the freeway on-ramp.

The trooper circled back to the on-ramp in pursuit of the suspected speeder, got on I-94 westbound and encountered a straight truck crashed up against the median between exits 1 and 2, the complaint states.

A check of the straight-truck driver revealed he sustained a compound arm fracture in the crash, according to reports, which go on to state that he was transported to Hudson Hospital.The truck driver was identified in the complaint as Andrew H. Harris, 28.

According to the complaint, a witness told the trooper that he watched the truck and the car collide on the freeway. The witness said he pulled over to check on the vehicles, but that the car involved in the crash "was already gone."

According to the charging document, Nelson was found at the scene of a second crash on Second Street in Hudson, where he allegedly struck a parked car.

Hudson police responded to that crash at 2:54 a.m. Saturday. Nelson told a Hudson officer he'd just been involved in a crash on I-94, the complaint states. After first denying having consumed alcohol, he later admitted to having several mixed drinks.

He showed signs of impairment during field sobriety tests and performed a breath test that revealed a 0.16 blood-alcohol level, the complaint states. Wisconsin's legal limit for driving is 0.08.

Asked by the trooper what happened before the crash, Nelson said "I went to look down and change my radio station," the complaint states. He told the trooper was headed back to Inver Grove Heights from River Falls.

Nelson later completed a written statement saying the truck had cut him off and struck him.

"The amount of force needed for a smaller car to send a 13,000-pound straight truck spinning across four lanes of traffic suggests Nelson was traveling faster than 70 mph," the trooper wrote in his report.

A preliminary hearing in the case is set for June 5 in St. Croix County.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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