Charges: Man drove 150 mph, was on Snapchat just before fatal crash near Becker
An Avon man is facing several criminal charges, including murder, after he allegedly caused a crash over the weekend while driving 150 mph.
Prosecutors have charged 23-year-old Hunter Michael Buckentine with third-degree murder, two counts of criminal vehicular homicide and two counts of criminal vehicular operation in connection to the crash.
It happened just after 1:10 a.m. on Saturday about halfway between Becker and Clear Lake.
Charging documents state that a trooper was driving east on U.S. Highway 10 near County Road 8 when he saw a westbound vehicle speed by. The speed limit in the area is 60 mph and the trooper’s radar showed the vehicle was headed 130 mph.
The trooper turned around and tried to catch up to the vehicle but eventually lost sight of it. However, a short time later, near 97th Street East, the trooper saw a debris field and a woman waving her arms frantically over her head.
The document adds that the woman said she and two others were in a Chevrolet Cobalt and suddenly she saw headlights and felt impact from another vehicle hitting them. She said the vehicle that hit them was going so fast she had no time to react and the crash caused the Cobalt to spin and then roll, tossing the other two from the car.
One of her passengers was airlifted to a hospital with serious injuries while the other person was pronounced dead.
The other vehicle, an Infiniti Q50, was around 200 yards away and was starting to catch fire but the trooper couldn’t find anyone in or around it, a criminal complaint states. Several other law enforcement personnel responded to help find the occupant and at around 6 a.m., people in a truck pulled up and said they were looking for their son and an app was showing his location as being in the nearby field.
According to the complaint, the people said Buckentine and their son had gone out together the night before and Buckentine was supposed to be the sober driver.
A phone ping led authorities to a pair of jeans in the field that had an Infiniti key fob inside as well as a black shirt.
Investigators later learned that the son had been found and wanted to talk with law enforcement. He then said he and Buckentine had been at Beck’s Pub and left around 1 a.m. to go to another person’s home in Clear Lake. He added that he saw Buckentine take two shots throughout the night but he seemed OK to drive.
After starting out going around 80 mph, the man said Buckentine sped up to 150 mph at one point, then took out his phone and took a Snapchat picture of his speed. When he looked up, he saw the Cobalt’s taillights and then they crashed. Afterward, Buckentine crawled out and started running away and the friend followed before losing track of him. Eventually, the friend was able to find a road and a passerby gave him a ride home.
The complaint notes that the friend had a seat belt mark over his right shoulder, consistent with him being a passenger in the Infiniti.
Buckentine called dispatchers later in the afternoon, saying he’d woken up wearing someone else’s clothes and without any of his possessions. He later told authorities that he owned the Infiniti and admitted having two drinks while at Beck’s Pub the night before but didn’t remember being drunk, leaving the bar or anyone he’d left with.
When a trooper told Buckentine his friend had said Buckentine was driving when they left the bar, the complaint states that Buckentine said he wouldn’t have any reason to not believe him.
Buckentine’s Snapchat data obtained by investigators later showed he’d posted a picture of the Infiniti’s speedometer at 150 mph with the caption, “new record,” just before the crash.
Investigators also determined the Infiniti didn’t brake at all before hitting the Cobalt.
Buckentine was arrested and is facing up to 25 years in prison on the murder charge, 10 years for the criminal vehicular homicide charges and five years for the criminal vehicular operation charges. He had a bail hearing Monday and is set for an initial court appearance on Sept. 20.