A drunken motorist lost his passenger from the bed of a pickup truck while driving off a dark lake early Sunday north of the Twin Cities, and the man was thrown to his death, according to authorities.
The incident occurred shortly before 2 a.m. at the edge of Neander Lake in Fish Lake Township, the Chisago County Sheriff’s Office said.
Authorities identified the victim as Bradley M. Nugent, in his late 30s, of Minnetonka. Others at the scene tried to resuscitate Nugent, but they could not save him. He was pronounced dead about 2:45 a.m.
The driver, Keith T. Watts, 37, was arrested at the scene, just outside his lakeside house, on suspicion of criminal vehicular homicide after investigators determined he was under the influence of alcohol, the Sheriff’s Office added.
Watts was taken to a nearby hospital, where his blood was drawn for a precise determination of his blood alcohol content level, authorities said.
Three other men were in the pickup at the time of the incident and were not hurt, said Sheriff’s Sgt. Kyle Puelston.
The pickup had just driven off the lake and onto a “frozen marsh that was really bumpy, when that bucked him off the bed of the truck and onto the ground,” Puelston said.
Watts appeared intoxicated due to his blurred vision, slurred speech and being unsteady on his feet, Puelston added. Watts refused to submit to a preliminary breath test at the scene, the sergeant said.
“They had been drinking that evening [on the lake], and unfortunately, there were huge consequences,” Puelston said.
State records show that Watts was convicted of drunken driving in Olmsted County in 1998, when his blood alcohol content level was more than 0.20 percent.