With a recent history of drinking and driving on his criminal record, an unlicensed motorcyclist was “hammered” when he fatally hit a woman in downtown Elko New Market and fled, according to felony charges filed Tuesday.
Longtime military member Mollie Mahowald, 24, was killed early Sunday when the motorcycle struck her and left the scene.
Matthew K. Hartley, 33, of Farmington, was charged in Scott County District Court with three counts of criminal vehicular homicide: one for gross negligence, one for being under the influence of alcohol and the third for leaving the scene of the crash.
The charges against Hartley noted that he was convicted of drunken driving in July and has another drunken driving charge pending.
Hartley appeared in court Tuesday for a bail hearing and remains jailed. A telephone message was left with his attorney seeking reaction to the allegations.
Mahowald was struck about 2:25 a.m. Sunday in the 9700 block of Main Street, a few miles from her home. She was on the “side of the road” with other people when she was struck by the speeding motorcycle, said Police Chief Steve Mortenson.
Hartley and a fellow motorcyclist were “hanging out playing music and doing ‘burnouts’ on the road,” the charges cited a witness from a bar as saying. “The witness said both of the motorcyclists appeared ‘hammered’ to him.”
Both motorcycles fled as “bystanders yelled at [them] to stop,” the complaint read.
Authorities located Hartley on the same day — his motorcycle hidden under a canoe — thanks to a friend of his telling police that Hartley called him minutes after the crash but didn’t reveal that he hit Mahowald, according to the charging document. The friend helped transport the damaged motorcycle back to Hartley’s home and then called police when he learned about the death, the document continued.
Mahowald’s father, Pete Mahowald, said the youngest of his three daughters was holding Mollie’s hand when she died. The sisters had been visiting a friend in Elko New Market after being with other family members earlier that evening, the father said.
The charges said that the impact sent Mollie Mahowald’s body “flying 20 to 30 feet.”
The suspect’s motorcycle operator’s permit had expired in June, and he also had his standard driver’s license revoked, according to the state Department of Public Safety.
The suspect’s criminal history in Minnesota includes many convictions for speeding, driving without the proper license and other traffic violations. He’s also been convicted of domestic abuse, terroristic threats, burglary and theft.
Mahowald, a graduate of New Prague High School, signed up for the Army when she was 17 and spent her 19th birthday serving in Iraq as a vehicle mechanic, her father said. She joined the National Guard in 2015 and was based out of the 1135th Combat Support Company in Faribault.
When not in uniform, Mollie Mahowald worked in a veterinarian’s office and was studying to be a veterinarian technician.
She served in Iraq for nine months in 2011 and 2012, and spent another nine months in Afghanistan in 2013 and 2014.
Her intention was to continue serving until she had put in 20 years with the military, her father said.