ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) – A 22-year-old St. Paul man is accused of driving drunk and crashing into a light pole on a set of light rail tracks that led to one person’s death, according to charges filed in Ramsey County Court.
Kanyi Lee Williams is charged with four counts of criminal vehicular operation in connection with the incident, which happened last Friday on the light rail transit tracks on University Avenue at Chatsworth.
According to the charges, St. Paul police were called at about 4:45 p.m. on a vehicle accident with injuries. When officers arrived, they discovered a Honda CRV that had crashed into a light pole on the light rail tracks. The driver, later identified as Williams, was found walking nearby. There were four other occupants trapped inside the vehicle.
All four were taken to the hospital, and authorities say 21-year-old Deshawn Perry died Monday night from his injuries, on his birthday.
The complaint states a witness told police she saw the CRV pass multiple vehicles on University Avenue, and that it suddenly jerked to the left and drove into the pole. Williams told authorities at the hospital that he was trying to go around a vehicle in front of him, over-corrected and hit the pole.
Officers at the scene said Williams smelled of alcohol, and he told officers he drank “a glass or two” of hard liquor two hours before the crash. He performed field sobriety tests, and a preliminary breath test showed he had a blood alcohol content of .118, above the legal limit for driving in Minnesota.
The complaint states investigators reviewed Metro Transit surveillance video, which showed the vehicle swerving to pass vehicles and changing lanes. The CRV then over-corrects and crashes into the utility pole.
Williams later admitted to police he had several glasses of hard liquor mixed before driving the CRV. He said he saw another vehicle coming into his lane and “freaked out,” making a series of hard turns before hitting the pole. He told police he failed his friends, and deserved whatever punishment he receives.
One other crash victim had surgery for a fracture on her skull and brain bleeding, another is hospitalized in stable condition and another was treated and released.
If convicted on all charges, Williams faces up to 16 years in prison and $40,000 in fines.