The Christmas Eve wreck that killed an 88-year-old Prior Lake man was a fatal collision of mistakes and bad judgment.
Susan M. Shaffer had signaled that she intended to make a right turn, but instead drove her Cadillac through the Lakeville intersection and into the path of a Dodge Durango driven by Jeffrey A. Martin, who police said had been drinking before loading his 9-year-old son into the SUV.
On Monday, Martin was charged in Dakota County District Court with drunken driving and child endangerment in connection with the collision that killed Shaffer's husband, Everett T. Letterly.
Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said more charges are possible.
"The question here is, was the driver, who we are alleging was under the influence, negligent or not?" Backstrom said. "We'll wait for further information to be received."
If Martin, 37, of Farmington, was negligent and driving drunk, he could also be charged with criminal vehicular homicide.
Shaffer, 69, remained in serious condition Monday at Regions Hospital in St. Paul, where her husband died on Christmas Day. Neither Martin nor the 9-year-old child were injured.
According to police descriptions of the incident, both drivers may have erred before the 5:01 p.m. collision at the intersection of Dodd Boulevard and Gerdine Path.
Shaffer, driving the Cadillac car eastbound on Dodd Boulevard with Letterly in the passenger seat, had signaled a right-hand turn.
A witness told investigators that the car's blinker was on as it approached the intersection of Gerdine Path and merged into the right-turn lane.
Martin had stopped his Dodge Durango at the stop sign on northbound Gerdine Path, signaling that he would be making a left turn onto westbound Dodd Road.
But Shaffer did not turn, and Martin pulled out and struck the passenger side of the Cadillac.
Lakeville police said Martin had slurred speech and bloodshot, watery eyes when they interviewed him at the scene of the collision. He initially told them he had not consumed any alcohol, but later said he had been drinking before he drove.
Police said Martin failed a preliminary breath test and consented to a urine test to determine his blood alcohol level. The results of the second test are not yet available.
Martin was arrested and taken to the Dakota County jail.
He faces one count of gross misdemeanor child endangerment, one count of third degree driving while impaired, enhanced because there was a child in the vehicle, and one count of fourth degree driving while impaired.
His next court appearance is Feb. 8.
"This crash is an example of how driving under the influence of alcohol just greatly increases the risk to everyone on the road," said Lakeville Police Chief Tom Vonhof. "Over the holidays, make sure that you do not drink and drive."
Katie Humphrey • 952-882-9056