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Dakota Co. Man, 27, Pleads Guilty To Drunken Crash That Killed 1

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A 27-year-old Hampton Township man has pleaded guilty in connection to a deadly crash that killed a 27-year-old Canon Falls man, according to the Dakota County Attorney’s Office.

On Monday, Keri James Gesme specifically pleaded guilty to one felony count of criminal vehicular homicide.

According to the criminal complaint, the crash occurred on Nov. 8, 2012, in Hampton Township on Highway 50 just outside of New Trier. Gesme allegedly drunkenly drove the truck off the highway, went through a ditch, up into a ditch and then became airborne. The truck, while airborne, struck two trees in the front yard of the residence before coming to a rest on its side.

When authorities arrived, a deceased man was found, identified as Dennis Paul Underwood, was found lying near one of the trees. Reconstruction of the crash concluded his fatal injuries were a result of his impact with a tree after being ejected from the truck.

Greme was found 75 feet from where the truck landed. He told police he was the owner of the truck and that he didn’t remember anything about the crash except that he wasn’t driving. Officers also noticed a “very strong odor of alcohol” on Gesme’s breath, according to the complaint.

Relatives of Gesme, however, arrived on scene and told police that Gesme is the only one who drives the truck. One family member said it was “bad” if Gesme was driving because he began drinking at 9 a.m. that morning. A blood sample taken from Gesme later indicated an alcohol concentration of .20.

An accident reconstruction concluded that Gesme was the driver of the vehicle at the time of the crash and that the vehicle was traveling between 83 and 106 miles per hour when it went airborne and struck the first tree.

Two additional counts of criminal vehicular homicide will be dismissed at the time of sentencing, which is scheduled for Feb. 18, 2014.

“We are pleased that the defendant accepted responsibility for his criminal behavior that took a life,” Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said. “Our deepest sympathy is extended to the family and friends of Dennis Underwood for their great loss.”

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