Lakeville woman suspected of DWI in fatal I-35E crash

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH and ABBY SIMONS , Star Tribune
  • Updated: December 18, 2010 - 12:28 AM

Julie Fischer, 49, had been arrested on suspicion of drunken driving five months ago.

Julie Ann Fischer

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A suspected drunken driver drove her SUV into the rear of a car stalled in a traffic lane on a Twin Cities interstate early Friday, killing the disabled vehicle's driver, authorities said.

The crash happened about 1 a.m. in the right-hand lane of northbound Interstate 35E at Wagon Wheel Trail, just north of Interstate 494 in Mendota Heights, the Minnesota State Patrol said.

Julie Ann Fischer, 49, of Lakeville, was booked in the Dakota County jail on suspicion of criminal vehicular homicide and third-degree drunken driving. It was her second episode of suspected drunken driving in the past five months, according to police and court records. Charges are expected early next week.

Tijuan Moore, 50, of St. Paul, was killed as he sat in the driver's seat, said patrol Lt. Eric Roeske. Lisa Newsom, 26, of St. Paul, who also was in the front seat, was treated at Regions Hospital in St. Paul and released. Moore's relatives described Newsom as a friend of the family. She was wearing a seat belt.

Witnesses told police Fischer was "swerving all over the road" before the crash, said patrol Capt. Matt Langer.

He said authorities have yet to figure out why Moore's vehicle broke down. And while they also don't know how long his car had sat in the traffic lane, Langer said he didn't think it was very long, given that no witnesses reported the stalled vehicle before the wreck.

Roeske said a state trooper at the scene observed Fischer "to be intoxicated." An officer gave her a preliminary breath test and had blood drawn for alcohol content testing, he said. Those results were not yet available.

Fischer, who was not seriously injured, was cited in July for suspected drunken driving, authorities said. In that case, according to Eagan police, someone reported to authorities a woman was sitting in an SUV along busy Cliff Road. Test results showed her blood-alcohol content at 0.20 percent, more than twice the legal limit for driving. A hearing next month is pending in that case, Langer said. She was driving Friday under a restricted license, but the restrictions were not made public, he said.

Roeske said when a vehicle breaks down, "Obviously, you want to get it out of the lane of traffic. It's not going to guarantee your safety, but it's something you want to do no matter what -- get it on the shoulder."

He added that, "Generally speaking, you are safest in your car with your seat belt on" while waiting for help. The patrol had yet to determine whether Moore had on his seat belt or whether the car's emergency flashers were on.

'It hurts a lot'

Moore's brother, Anthony Moore, 51, said the family was reeling from Tijuan's death -- particularly his wife of two years, Denece, who declined to comment. Moore said they're grief-stricken and angry.

"It's just stupid for somebody to die because somebody's been drinking and they choose to drive," he said.

Anthony Moore said his brother moved to the Twin Cities from Chicago a few years ago and was married a short time later.

He left behind in Illinois a serious criminal record but had no Minnesota record. An Illinois prison spokeswoman said Moore was sentenced in 1988 for a murder that occurred a year earlier and is no longer under state supervision. He ran his own lawn care business, relatives said.

Anthony Moore said his brother had four children and seven grandchildren and was helping raise his wife's four children.

He said he wasn't sure where his brother had been that night. He said Tijuan had been in touch with his wife. He spoke with her on the phone 10 minutes before the crash and told her the car was stalling. She dozed off and heard the knock at the door, angry at first because she thought her husband was even later than promised. Instead, it was the police.

Moore said his family will have to deal with the loss of a loved one during the holidays. It's a cautionary tale, he said, for would-be drunken drivers.

"That's what people need to start thinking about," he said. "Nobody thinks they're the next Julie Fischer. They need to wake up and see that."

paul.walsh@startribune.com • 612-673-4482 abby.simons@startribune.com • 612-673-4921

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