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Driver is charged in crash that killed Cass Lake pair

  • Article by: Paul Walsh
  • Star Tribune
  • May 21, 2014 - 9:44 PM

Violating probation by being in a bar and getting extremely drunk, a Cass Lake man sped along a dark northwestern Minnesota highway until he caused a head-on crash that killed a Cass Lake couple, authorities said.

In criminal vehicular homicide charges filed last week in Cass County District Court, authorities said 27-year-old Michael J. Stangel’s blood alcohol content was measured at 0.33 percent. That’s more than four times the legal limit.

The May 3 crash on Hwy. 75 killed Lisa M. Collins, 47, and Timothy B. Collins, 46. The couple had been married for 26 years and had two children and seven grandchildren.

At the time, Stangel was serving two years’ probation from an October conviction for assault in Hubbard County. Terms of his probation included staying out of bars and liquor stores and not drinking. His criminal history in Minnesota also includes convictions for underage drinking, drug possession, disorderly conduct and domestic assault.

He posted bail and was released from jail Wednesday, pending a May 27 hearing.

According to the criminal complaint, Stangel was seen drinking in a bar that night until he got into a scrape with another patron. He and a companion were asked to leave. He drove northbound on Hwy. 75 with his headlights off at about 10 p.m.

Another driver said Stangel struck his car from behind at least twice, then flipped on his headlights and sped ahead.

Moments later, Stangel veered into the southbound lane, sending an oncoming vehicle swerving into the ditch.

Immediately behind that vehicle was the Collinses’ Kia Spectra. Stangel’s Chevy Tahoe SUV hit their compact car head-on.

Officers who approached Stangel and his passenger in the wreckage detected a strong odor of alcohol. Inside the SUV was an open case of beer and open or empty liquor bottles.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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