A sentence of 30 days is the punishment for a 70-year-old motorist who was drunk when he fatally ran over a 5-year-old boy whose wagon rolled into the vehicle’s path on a southeastern Minnesota street.
Myles T. Keller, who lives near Mantorville, Minn., was sentenced last week in Olmsted County District Court after pleading guilty to misdemeanor drunken driving in connection with the death of Lukas Wharton. The boy rolled down an embankment into the road while playing with his siblings on May 24, 2016, outside their home near Byron. Lukas died about a week later.
Keller’s blood alcohol content an hour after the crash was between 0.081 and 0.101 percent, according to the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension. The legal limit for driving in Minnesota is 0.08 percent.
In July of this year, Keller entered what is known as an Alford plea, meaning that he maintained being not guilty of the charge but acknowledged there was enough evidence to convict him. Dismissed were a more serious gross-misdemeanor count of reckless driving and a second misdemeanor drunken-driving charge.
Keller could be granted the option of serving his time on work release. Judge Kathy Wallace split the time in two 15-day segments: One begins on Lukas’ birth date and the other on the date of the crash.
His sentence also includes a year’s probation, during which he must abstain from alcohol, stay out of bars and liquor stores and perform 40 hours of community service.
County Attorney Mark Ostrem said a charge of felony criminal vehicular homicide was not filed because it would have been difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Keller’s actions behind the wheel played a substantial role in Lukas’ death. Keller was driving within the speed limit and stopped immediately after hitting the boy and called 911, according to authorities.
KAAL-TV in Rochester reported that during sentencing, Lukas’ father, Josh Wharton, said, “I still walk miles and miles at night searching for him [Lukas] ... I’d do anything to hold his hand or be with him.”