Charges: Driver Was Drunk When He Fatally Struck Couple At 95 MPH

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A Golden Valley man was driving drunk at more than 100 miles per hour the night he smashed into and killed a young couple in Minneapolis.

Melvin Jones and Brandy Banks-Sutta were stopped at a light at Morgan Avenue North and Olson Memorial Highway on Nov. 3, 2013 when they were hit from behind and instantly killed.

After a five-month investigation, 55-year-old Philip Scott Bertelsen of Golden Valley appeared in Hennepin County Court on four counts of criminal vehicular homicide and driving under the influence.

Wednesday’s cold rain couldn’t stop Margaret Morgan from bringing more balloons and flowers to the scene where her niece was killed.

“We all wanted the driver to be charged, but at the same time it’s a bittersweet moment,” Morgan said.

Philip Scott Bertelsen had a blood-alcohol limit of .18, which is more than twice the legal limit. Investigators later determined that Bertelsen was speeding along at 107 miles per hour just three seconds before the crash.

Minneapolis Police Lt. Chris Hudok says at the moment of impact, Bertelsen’s vehicle was still traveling 95 miles per hour.

“We downloaded the crash data retrieval information from the suspect’s vehicle, and that retains certain information about a vehicle’s operation,” Hudok said.

Even though Bertelsen is charged with criminal vehicular homicide, the families of the victims remain outraged. While prosecutors asked for $300,000 in bail, Hennepin District Court Judge William Koch set Bertelsen free without cash bond.

But the judge did secure Bartelsen’s release on certain conditions, including that he have no alcohol or drugs and he remain law abiding.

Still, the lack of a cash bond at Wednesday’s court hearing further incensed family members who remain deep in grief.

“To go into court and feel like they were taken from us all over again,” Morgan said.

Bertelsen will be back in court on May 20 at 11:00 a.m. Ironically, that date would have been Brandy Banks-Sutta’s 22nd birthday.

More from Bill Hudson
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