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Woman Gets Nearly 5 Years In Crash That Killed Motorcyclist

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(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

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MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A 45-year-old Lakeville woman was sentenced to nearly five years in prison on Wednesday for driving drunk in a June 2013 crash that killed a motorcyclist.

Leah Marie Colwell had been charged with one count of criminal vehicular homicide and one count of driving after cancellation, fourth degree DWI and open bottle in connection with the June 27, 2013 crash. She pleaded guilty May 1 to criminal vehicular homicide, and had all other charges dropped. Colwell was sentenced to 57 months in prison in Dakota County Court on Wednesday.

According to court documents, Lakeville and Apple Valley Police were called to a two-vehicle crash involving a motorcycle in the area of 160th Street and Harwell Ave. on June 27, 2013. When officers arrived, the motorcyclist, identified as 29-year-old Jeff Trondson of Burnsville, was pronounced dead at the scene.

The motorcyclist had been heading westbound on 160th Street when a Ford Taurus, driven by Colwell, was heading eastbound on 160th Street and turned northbound on Harwell Avenue in front of the motorcycle. The motorcycle hit the passenger side of the vehicle, killing the rider. A preliminary breath test at the scene showed Colwell had a blood alcohol level of .36, more than four times the legal limit for driving in Minnesota, at the time of the crash. Colwell told police she didn’t have a license but did not know why it had been taken away.

According to the complaint, she told police she was driving from her house to her friend’s house and didn’t see the motorcycle until the crash happened. She told police she had been drinking at her home and had consumed four “Captain Cokes” before leaving. Colwell told police she thought she was “alright do drive” and didn’t want her passengers driving because they had consumed more alcohol than she did.

There were two occupants with Colwell in the car at the time of the crash and one of them tried to warn her of the motorcycle before the crash, but it was too late. The complaint states one of the passengers panicked after the crash and threw a bottle of Captain Morgan and a bottle of tequila into a trash can at a nearby residence. Authorities recovered both bottles, and the seal on the Captain Morgan bottle had been broken.

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