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Minn. roundup: Body in Mississippi river wasn't man who fled police; Man fires 5 to 7 shots at another vehicle on 35E

ST. PAUL—A body found in the Mississippi River in St. Paul on Monday was a 52-year-old missing since the beginning of May.

Earlier on Monday, authorities were searching the river bluffs in the area for a motorist who ran from officers trying to pull him over. Officials did not immediately say on Monday whether the body found belonged to the man from that day's traffic stop. The identification from the Ramsey County medical examiner's office on Tuesday indicated he was not.

The man found in the river was Jeffrey D. Asfahl and his probable cause of death was drowning, according to Lori Hedican, medical examiner's chief investigator.

The city of Ramsey police asked for the public's help on May 3 to find Asfahl, the day he was reported missing from his Anoka County home. His vehicle was found on the Interstate 35W bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis on May 3, Hedican said.

In St. Paul, police continue to investigate the whereabouts of the man who ran from officers at Highland Parkway and Mississippi River Boulevard about 1:30 a.m. Monday. He went into the woods toward the river bluff and disappeared. Crews searched for the man by boat and helicopter but didn't find him.


Nature Conservancy to plant 100,000 trees in northeast Minnesota

DULUTH—The Nature Conservancy announced Tuesday that it will plant 50,000 conifer trees in Northeastern Minnesota this summer, and another 50,000 next year, in coolspots — cooler microclimates in Northeastern Minnesota where the trees might survive the impacts of climate change.

The group is planting white spruce, white pine, jack pine and tamarack to create "conifer strongholds" where the native trees can thrive even under the warmer, sometimes drier conditions projected for the Great Lakes region.

Minnesota temperatures already have risen from 20th century averages and some scientists say global climate change will raise mean annual temperatures in Northeastern Minnesota another 2 to 10 degrees Fahrenheit during the next 50 years.

That kind of climate will favor some warmer weather species like maples and oaks but hinder species like spruce, tamarack and fir. The News Tribune in March first reported results of a study by the Woods Hole Research Center that show many trees common in forests across the eastern U.S., including Minnesota and Wisconsin, won't be able to keep up with the current pace of climate change.

Abundant conifers support a wide range of native species of wildlife including migratory songbirds, great gray owls and moose. Conifers also are valuable to the forest industry as pulpwood and lumber.

The Conservancy has picked about 30 stronghold sites covering 400 acres for planting this spring. They are on recently harvested public land, ranging from about 5- to 70-acre tracts, said Mark White, forest ecologist for the Nature Conservancy in Minnesota. The sites are cooler, such as north-facing hills or areas near Lake Superior.


Van, semi collision leaves 1 dead

ROSEAU, Minn. — A Roseau man died after his van crashed into a semi late Monday, May 22.

Minnesota State Patrol says 42-year-old Jack Martin Dahl of Roseau was driving a Dodge Caravan east on Highway 11 when he crossed the centerline and collided with a westbound Kenworth semi near Roseau County Road 123.

The crash was reported at 10:48 p.m.

Dahl suffered fatal injuries in the crash while the semi driver, 52-year-old Todd Mitchell Harris of Alexandria, suffered non-life threatening injuries.

Both men were wearing seatbelts. Alcohol was not a factor in the crash, the State Patrol reported.


Man fires 5 to 7 shots at another vehicle on Minnesota interstate

ST. PAUL—The Minnesota State Patrol is looking for tips to find a driver who fired five to seven shots at a tow truck on Interstate 35E in St. Paul early Tuesday. At least one bullet hit the rear driver's door, but no injuries were reported.

The motive is under investigation, though the State Patrol does not believe it to be road rage. The 23-year-old tow truck driver from Richfield reported that he did not know the suspect and had no interaction with him before the run-in, said Lt. Tiffani Nielson, State Patrol spokeswoman.

The incident began as the tow truck driver was stopped at a stoplight heading onto southbound I-35E in St. Paul. The other man got out of his minivan, approached the tow truck and started yelling at the driver, Nielson said.

The suspect "tried to argue with him, but the tow driver, based on his statement, ignored that and got on the freeway," she said.

The five to seven shots were then fired on the freeway. The tow truck driver left the highway, stopped and called police. The drivers were alone in their vehicles at the time the shots were fired, Nielson said.

The suspect was driving a white 2000s Dodge or Chrysler minivan. He is described as black, in his mid-20s, about 5 feet 8 inches tall, with shoulder-length dreadlocks. Anyone with information is asked to call the State Patrol at 651-582-1509.


Trial for trucker with sleep apnea involved in fatal crash delayed

TWO HARBORS, MINN.—The trial for a Hibbing truck driver accused of criminal vehicular homicide in a crash that killed the Silver Bay mayor's son has been postponed until October.

John Ray Carpenter, 60, was set to stand trial next month in the 2015 death of Andrew Johnson, who was killed when his pickup truck was struck head-on by Carpenter's septic tanker in October 2015.

Authorities allege that Carpenter, who has a long history of traffic collisions, operated his truck in a "grossly negligent manner" and that he caused the crash by either falling asleep or blacking out at the wheel.

The postponement was mutually requested by attorneys, with Lake County prosecutor Lisa Hanson explaining that the parties are still seeking records from the Minnesota Department of Transportation that may be relevant to the case.

Sixth Judicial District Judge Eric Hylden rescheduled the three-day trial to begin Oct. 9 in State District Court in Two Harbors, according to online records.

Johnson, the 31-year-old son of Silver Bay Mayor Scott Johnson, was traveling along Lax Lake Road on Oct. 22, 2015, when the collision occurred. Carpenter reportedly admitted to police at the scene that he either fell asleep or lost consciousness. Witnesses also reported seeing his truck driving erratically, a criminal complaint states.

Investigators said Carpenter's medical records indicated that he had a documented history of obstructive sleep apnea dating back to 2001, and that his driving privileges had been briefly suspended in 2005 for failing to submit to a physical exam.