A 21-year-old driver was distracted and speeding when she rear-ended a car stopped at a St. Paul intersection and set off a multivehicle chain reaction that left one man dead and other people injured, according to prosecutors.
Megan C. Severson, of Preston, Minn., was charged Monday in Ramsey County District Court with criminal vehicular homicide in connection with the midday pileup on Hwy. 52 on Oct. 17, 2019, that killed Anthony Keli Kawino, 33, of Burnsville.
Severson was charged by summons and is due in court on Feb. 18. A message was left at her home Tuesday seeking a response to the allegations. Court records do not list an attorney for her.
Prosecutors reviewed witness accounts and evidence from the State Patrol investigation before settling on charging Severson with a felony. According to the criminal complaint:
Severson was traveling 70 mph, 15 mph over the speed limit, a few seconds before her Chevy Malibu hit a Saturn SL stopped on northbound Hwy. 52 at Plato Boulevard. The Saturn's driver and one passenger survived their injuries, but Kawino did not.
The drivers in two other vehicles caught up in the wreck were slightly hurt, as was Severson.
The patrol found that Severson didn't brake until a half-second before impact, reducing her speed to no less than 59 mph.
Severson told troopers soon after the crash that she believed she was driving the speed limit, denied being distracted by anything and explained that "her sunroof was open, resulting in a glare on her dashboard," the complaint read.
However, Severson told someone in a car behind hers that she had glanced down at the GPS on her dashboard shortly before impact.
The patrol's crash reconstruction investigation concluded that "the only possible reason for [Severson] to fail to perceive the slower traffic would be from distraction."
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482