Charges: Man hit trooper’s squad vehicle in metro before fatally hitting Moose Lake man

A criminal complaint filed in Carlton County court says the man accused of fatally striking a pedestrian in Moose Lake last week had hit a Minnesota State Patrol squad vehicle earlier that same day.

According to the complaint, 21-year-old Brent James Keranen of Pengilly has been charged with one count of criminal vehicular homicide for the crash, which killed 61-year-old Justin McNeil on March 21.

As previously reported by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, the crash happened around 2 p.m. in an area near Highway 73 and Jon Brown Drive. According to the complaint, McNeil was walking along the northbound side shoulder of Highway 73 when he was hit by Keranen’s vehicle, which the document says left the lane and hit McNeil, who died at the scene.

The document goes on to say during their investigation, authorities discovered Keranen was returning home to northern Minnesota that day after working in the Twin Cities metro area.

In an interview with authorities, Keranen allegedly told them he had been up late the night before drinking alcoholic beverages with friends after working long hours.

A few hours before the fatal crash happened, the complaint says Keranen’s vehicle hit a squad vehicle belonging to a State Patrol trooper as he was leaving the metro area, which happened while he had fallen asleep at the wheel. In addition, Keranen told police he had a .066 preliminary breath test earlier in the day.

Court documents say Keranen received a citation from that incident and continued driving. He then allegedly drank a 5-hour energy drink after stopping because he was tired, but then kept going.

Eventually, the complaint says Keranen told police his airbags went off after he was playing “air guitar” to a song that came on the radio. It goes on to add that he told police his cruise control was set to 52 in a posted 40 mph speed zone.

A field sobriety test was done, and a breath test showed his BAC level was at a 0.06.

During a bail hearing held on Friday, Keranen’s bail was set at $150,000 with conditions by Judge Rebekka Stumme. His next court hearing is scheduled for the morning of April 1.

If convicted, Keranen could face up to 10 years in prison, as well as a $20,000 fine.