by Jim Boyle
Carlos Molina Flores has been charged in Sherburne County 10th District Court with criminal vehicular homicide in the Feb. 24 death of Suzanah Van De Walker, a 27-year-old St. Francis woman.
The 42-year-old Nowthen man is accused of operating his 2008 Dodge Ram pick-up in a negligent manner under the influence of alcohol, according to a criminal complaint filed Feb. 26.
Elk River Police and Fire were dispatched to the 10100 block of Twin Lakes Road at 1:26 a.m. this past Sunday for a report of a serious motor vehicle crash. While en route they were notified by an off duty Sherburne County Sheriff’s Deputy that one driver was deceased. They arrived to find Flores’ damaged truck and the victim’s mangled 2006 Grand Prix from an apparent head-on collision in the northbound lane of the curved roadway.
An Elk River officer asked Flores on the scene if he was the only occupant and he said “yes,” according to the complaint. Both vehicles had car seats in them, giving rise to a concern that a child could have been thrown from a vehicle. But after searching the adjacent ditches to the crash site out in front of Twin Lakes Elementary School and making contact with relatives it was determined each vehicle had been occupied by a single person at the time of the crash, according to Elk River Police Capt. Bob Kluntz.
Van De Walker was pronounced dead at the scene; her body was transported to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office. The Ramsey County Medical Examiner’s Office released her name Wednesday afternoon.
Van De Walker had been on her way home from work at Rockwoods in Otsego at the time of the crash. She was married to husband Joshua and had two young sons, Tucker and Jackson.
Accident reconstructionist Mike Sieg of the Sherburne County Sheriff’s Department determined that the pickup had been travelling southbound and the St. Francis woman had been travelling northbound when Flores truck crossed the center line of the road and collided with the Grand Prix.
The Elk River officer stated that he smelled a moderate odor of alcohol emitting from the defendant and his eyes appeared to be bloodshot and watery, according to the complaint.
Flores reportedly told police he had one or two beers prior to the crash and that he was driving to the City of Elk River at the time of the crash. He also told police he was suffering neck pain and bruising on his hands as a result of the crash.
He was transported to Mercy Hospital for treatment of his injuries and to have a blood sample drawn.
Flores was later released from Mercy, and was transported to the Sherburne County Sheriff’s Office where he was and booked and held.
The blood sample was delivered to the Tri-County Regional Forensic Laboratory for analysis, which revealed a blood alcohol content level of .17, the complaint stated.
Flores was charged with two counts of the criminal vehicular homicide or operation. One is a felony for operating it with negligence and under the influence of alcohol. The second count is a gross misdemeanor for having an alcohol concentration of more than .08 within two hours of driving.
Each carries with it a potential 10 years in prison and or a $20,000 fine.
Flores is being held in Sherburne County Jail.
Click here to read about funeral for Van De Walker.