A 19-year-old man has admitted to charges that he and his father played host to an underage booze party attended by a standout high school athlete who died in wintry weather after fleeing the gathering when authorities showed up.
Erik P. Hastad, of Hantho Township, pleaded guilty Tuesday in Lac qui Parle County District Court to a misdemeanor social host ordinance and gross misdemeanor contributing to the delinquency of a child.
Hastad’s father, Gary, was in court Wednesday for a hearing and has yet to enter a plea, according to his attorney, Ronald R. Frauenshuh Jr.
If the older Hastad takes his case to trial, he may hear his son testifying against him, Frauenshuh said Wednesday.
“He could be compelled to testify,” on behalf of the prosecution, the defense attorney said.
The charges are a test of the county’s social host ordinance, passed in 2011 in an attempt to reduce underage drinking by holding parents and other party hosts criminally liable. Since Chaska enacted Minnesota’s first social host ordinance in 2007, such rules have become commonplace in cities and counties across the state.
Also charged were several underage partyers who ran as law enforcement officers arrived shortly before 12:30 a.m. on March 9 at the farm where the party was held. They were accused of fleeing law enforcement and underage drinking.
“The judge is going to set sentencing for all parties on the same day, which has not been set yet,” County Attorney Rick Stulz said Wednesday. “ All but two of the minor consumption [defendants] have pled [guilty], and I am guessing the other two will as well, once their attorneys appear with them.”
The body of Michael Anyasike, 18, of Dawson, Minn., was found the next afternoon about a mile northwest of the party at a different farm northeast of Madison. Anyasike died from hypothermia, with alcohol consumption as a contributing factor, according to the county medical examiner.
Anyasike was a senior and lead running back for the Dawson-Boyd High School football team, which made it to the Prep Bowl last fall. He and his fellow Blackjacks won the state title in 2011 and were second in 2012. He had planned to attend St. John’s University.
Erik Hastad, who in February pleaded guilty to his fourth underage drinking offense in the past 18 months, spread the word about the Saturday night party and screened people as they arrived, asking who they were if he did not know them, according to the criminal complaint.
Gary Hastad, the farm’s owner, was not at the party but “reasonably should have known” about it, the complaint read. In making its case against the father, the complaint went on to note that there have been underage drinking parties at the farm previously, that snow was cleared to accommodate vehicles, and that a sound system and spotlights were set up in anticipation of the gathering down the street from his home.
One partyer interviewed by authorities said there had been two previous parties at this farm over the winter, and another said this bash was to mark spring break for the students.