Two men who had been drinking clashed before one of them without a valid license got into an SUV and ran over the other along a northern Minnesota country road.
The driver then fled as the victim died in a roadside ditch, according to charges filed Tuesday in Clearwater County.
Elmer W. Thompson, 43, of Bagley, Minn., was arrested without incident Monday afternoon and charged with running over Russell M. Auginaush, 35, of Naytahwaush, along Lower Rice Lake Road near Rice Lake, according to the Sheriff’s Office.
Thompson was charged in District Court with criminal vehicular homicide and failing to stop and notify law enforcement of an incident involving an injury. He remains jailed after appearing in court.
The defendant has yet to be charged in this incident with an alcohol-related offense. Sheriff Darin Halverson said Tuesday that “we do not have any definitive answers to whether he was drinking or not.”
The state Department of Public Safety said Tuesday that Thompson’s license had been revoked before Auginaush was hit Sunday.
Thompson’s criminal history in Minnesota includes three drunken-driving convictions, as well as convictions for domestic assault, assault and disorderly conduct.
He is currently on probation from the most recent of the drunken-driving convictions, a case filed in Becker County in early 2011 that included him pleading guilty to driving on a suspended license.
Halverson said it appeared that Auginaush “was in the lane of traffic slightly” at the time he was run over sometime between 3 and 7 a.m. Auginaush ended up in a ditch, while one of his socks and a shoe were in the road; he was declared dead at the scene.
The vehicle suspected of being the one that hit Auginaush was seized Sunday afternoon at a home not far from the scene, shortly after the body was discovered by a relative, Halverson said.
According to the criminal complaint:
Witnesses told authorities that Thompson and Auginaush got into “an altercation” while drinking and socializing with several people Saturday night and into Sunday.
Auginaush left the group and began walking along Lower Rice Lake Road. Thompson, with three others in the SUV, began driving along the same route as Auginaush. The front-seat passenger said he was “momentarily distracted [but] felt something striking the vehicle.”
After driving a short distance, Thompson returned to where the impact occurred and saw a shoe and sock in the road. Thompson and the others then saw Auginaush’s body in the ditch.
Thompson drove to his destination with the others, then asked them to agree to a story that they had not seen anything in connection with Auginaush being run over.