Somerset crash yields felony charges for Minn. man

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A Minnesota man is facing multiple felonies after a three-vehicle crash in Somerset that left one woman and one juvenile injured.

Nicholas B. Audier, 40, Bloomington, was charged in St. Croix County Circuit Court Sept. 22 with OWI—sixth and two counts of OWI causing injury—second and subsequent offense. The first charge carries a maximum penalty of ten years in prison; the other two carry a maximum sentence of six years.

According to the complaint:

At 4:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 21 Somerset police responded to a three-vehicle crash at the intersection of Highway 35/Church Hill Road and 190th Avenue/Harriman Street. While enroute, the officer noticed northbound traffic on 35 backed up; he saw three vehicles with severe damage leaking fluids and multiple people walking around. A 14-year-old female was laying in the ditch, holding her stomach.

Audier approached an officer with his hands behind his back, saying the accident was his fault and that he'd been drinking. He said he'd drank seven beers and was over the legal limit.

The people and vehicles involved in the crash included a 2014 Jeep driven by Audier; a 2016 Malibu driven by Kathryn C. Kurkowski, 53 and a 14-year-old female passenger; a 2013 Ford Fusion, driven by Anthony R. Blair, 52; a 2006 GMC Sierra, driving by Michael E. Paulson, 38; and a 2014 Malibu, driven by Zachary A. Dannhoff, 33.

A witness reported Dannhoff's vehicle stationary in the northbound lane, attempting to turn onto Harriman Street.

"I watched the Jeep approach at what appeared to be full speed. It hit the second vehicle which then pushed into the first vehicle," the witness said.

The crash caused a domino effect.

Kurkowski and the juvenile were transported to Lakeview Hospital. She told police she suffered back/neck pain and bruising, as did the girl.

When police again spoke with Audier, he said he was "playing with the dashboard..you know, the computer and I just didn't see it."

A PBT test resulted in a .237 reading, nearly three times the legal limit. While on the way to the jail, Audier allegedly said "I can't believe I totaled that car."

He is set to appear for a preliminary hearing at 9 a.m. Oct. 9.