The wrong-way SUV driver who killed a motorist near Northfield was extremely drunk at the time of the late-night crash, according to a felony charge filed in the death of an Iowa attorney driving home from the Bruno Mars concert in the Twin Cities.
Brandon P. Dellwo, 29, of Shakopee, was charged Tuesday in Rice County District Court with criminal vehicular homicide. Dellwo appeared in court Tuesday afternoon and remains jailed in lieu of $50,000 bail ahead of an Oct. 3 court appearance.
While in the hospital being treated for his own injuries, medical personnel and a state trooper heard Dellwo say multiple times, “I just killed someone,” the criminal complaint read.
Law enforcement then took Dellwo to jail, where a preliminary breath test revealed his blood alcohol content to be 0.266 percent, more than three times the legal limit for driving in Minnesota.
The crash occurred about 12:10 a.m. Sunday on Hwy. 19 between Lonsdale and Northfield, killing Kacy E. Merseal, 29, of Des Moines. Merseal was engaged to be married in June 2018.
She worked as a defense attorney and was returning from the concert in St. Paul that night with a friend, Tanya Marie Von Weine, 30, of Story City, Iowa, Merseal’s fiancé wrote in a posting on Facebook.
“She had a great time (at the concert), and the fact that her last day on Earth was a great day for her is one of the only things keeping me going right now,” Vithoun Saysopha wrote. “I’m a mix of emotions, from being a sad wreck ... to being full of anger.”
He added that Merseal, who died at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis, “was just getting into the groove of being an attorney and arguing in the courtroom. She was doing what she loved to do. She was a defense attorney meaning she would’ve defended the guy that killed her.”
Merseal’s passenger was hospitalized in Northfield with noncritical injuries.
Another motorist spotted Dellwo’s Lincoln Navigator traveling east on the wrong side of the highway and called 911, then came upon the crash scene minutes later just west of Interstate 35 and called 911 again, State Patrol dispatch audio revealed.
According to the complaint:
When state troopers approached Dellwo’s SUV, he was sitting in the passenger seat and there was blood in several locations around the driver’s seat. Both doors to the heavily damaged vehicle had to be pried open.
One trooper “asked the defendant why he moved over to the passenger side,” and Dellwo repeated something “along the lines of ‘no.’ ”
Indications of Dellwo being drunk at the crash scene were substantial. There was an “overwhelming odor of alcohol” coming from his breath, he had trouble keeping his head still and his speech was slurred. His eyes were droopy, bloodshot and watery.
Dellwo’s criminal history in Minnesota since he became an adult includes two misdemeanor alcohol convictions as well as convictions three times for speeding, once for a red-light violation and another for operating an ATV without a license.
A telephone message was left Tuesday afternoon with Dellwo’s attorney seeking a response to the allegations.