Teen charged in crash that killed 18-year-old, seriously injured others in Woodbury

After five teens in Woodbury decided to drive to McDonald’s while they were having a sleepover in March, it left one of them dead, three of them seriously injured and another charged, with the possibility he is tried as an adult in court.

According to a petition filed in Washington County Court, a 17-year-old has been charged with one count of criminal vehicular homicide and three counts of criminal vehicular operation in connection to a March 13 crash.

A motion has been filed to charge the teen as an adult.

The crash killed 18-year-old Garrett Bumgarner, of Woodbury. Others seriously hurt in the crash included Connor Bro, Jack Mears and Andrew McKevitt. All of the boys were students at East Ridge High School in Woodbury.

The petition states, on March 13 around 11:05 p.m., the crash happened when the 17-year-old attempted to "hit the bump" on Settlers Ridge Parkway to "get air" at nearly twice the speed limit and crashed. The car veered off Settlers Ridge Parkway at Sundance Lane, hit a tree and split the vehicle in two pieces — front and back — from the impact. Bumgarner was sitting in the backseat and was ejected from the car, along with two others.

An investigation showed the vehicle was traveling at 76 miles per hour in a 40 miles per hour zone. An accident-reconstruction report prepared by Sgt. Kelly Phillips of the Minnesota State Patrol shows the car was going 73-80 mph; calculations were based on evidence at the scene such as drag factors, surface type, slope and vehicle dynamics.

"As the Honda was going airborne, (the 17-year-old) steered to the left to go back into the northbound traffic lane," the petition states, quoting Phillips’ report. "When the Honda came back down and made contact with the roadway, the front end left a gouge. (the 17-year-old) was unable to control the Honda as the back of the vehicle came down."

The rear of the car began to rotate clockwise, and the 17-year-old tried to maneuver back to the left, over-correcting, according to the petition.

"This overcorrection caused the vehicle to rotate counterclockwise with the passenger side leading as it left the roadway," the petition states. "The passenger side … made contact with a tree trunk. The impact was significant enough it severed the rear of the vehicle. The front of the Honda continued northbound in the grass rotating clockwise and coming to final rest against another tree. The rear of the vehicle ejected the three occupants into the roadway and sidewalk as it was traveling in a northwestern direction."

A crash report states that all five teens were wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash. The road was dry and the car had no mechanical issues.

The three boys who suffered serious injuries — Bro, Mears and McKevitt — were taken to Regions Hospital for treatment. The petition doesn’t specify what injuries related to each boy, but the injuries were listed as follows:

  • One of the victims was intubated for two weeks while he underwent multiple surgeries to his pelvis, clavicle and ribs. He also had a lacerated liver. He spent over two weeks at the hospital.
  • One of the victims suffered a fractured clavicle, dental fractures and other injuries that the petition did not specify. He spent three days at the hospital.
  • One of the victims sustained contusions to both of his lungs and suffered a right lung laceration that resulted in a collapsed lung. He spent three days at the hospital as well.

The 17-year-old suffered minor injuries in the crash, according to the petition. A blood test taken showed that the boy was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crash.

The boys told police they were watching movies during a sleepover when they decided to get some Shamrock Shakes from McDonald’s. When they decided on who was driving, the 17-year-old was insistent on driving. One of the boys told police, "as soon as they left the house, (the 17-year-old) began to drive very fast."

The petition goes on to say that the boys "believed that (the 17-year-old) was trying to ‘act cool.’ (The 17-year-old) would take exaggerated turns around corners and barely slowed down for a roundabout they went through." The petition also states that one of the boys, at one point, told the 17-year-old to "chill out." Another boy pointed out that the 17-year-old was "driving like an idiot" that night.

The 17-year-old then chose to take Settlers Ridge Parkway because he wanted to "hit the bump," instead of taking a shorter distance to the restaurant.

"There is kind of a slope and a little bit of a dip, and of course the road goes downhill. My understanding is that some people try and get some air when they come through here," said Jennifer Kearns, a resident in the area, told KSTP back in March. "We don’t even feel safe having our children cross this busy road alone."

After the crash, Woodbury officials hired SRF Consulting Group Inc. to conduct an engineering assessment of the intersection. The group’s investigation did not find any flaws in the way the intersection was built that contributed to the crash. They also noted that the intersection "meets all state design standards and guidelines."

The boy "told (the 17-year-old) to slow down because (he) was concerned that (the 17-year-old) was going too fast for the bump," the petition states. He "did not remember anyone in the car cheering, screaming or telling (the 17-year-old) to stop and nobody in the car encouraged (him) to hit the bump."

The 17-year-old told officers the other boys "were telling him to speed up at the bump," the petition states. "He stated he hit the bump at 60 mph, and the vehicle ‘got a bit of air.’ When the car came down, (the 17-year-old) stated it swerved, and he does not recall what happened after that."

The 17-year-old, who was wearing a shirt while driving, was not wearing it when officers talked to him at the scene; he said he "could not explain how it came off" during the crash, the petition states.

The 17-year-old is expected to make his first court appearance on Thursday afternoon.