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Driver, victim in fatal Douglas County crash were friends

A Duluth woman who fatally struck a pedestrian while driving on a rural Douglas County road last week was a close friend of the victim and had been with him at a nearby cabin shortly before the collision, a mutual friend said Wednesday.

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Eric Madrid

A Duluth woman who fatally struck a pedestrian while driving on a rural Douglas County road last week was a close friend of the victim and had been with him at a nearby cabin shortly before the collision, a mutual friend said Wednesday.

Authorities reported a day earlier that 49-year-old Ann Murray struck Eric Madrid, 40, along County Highway T in the town of Wascott at about 11:20 p.m. Friday. Madrid died at a Duluth hospital on Monday.

Amber Tilsen, a friend of both Madrid and Murray, said the two had been spending the weekend at Murray's Wascott cabin.

"They went out there on Friday," Tilsen told the News Tribune. "They had been planning it for weeks as an end-of-summer thing."

Tilsen said she was stunned and confused by the news. She said she knew Madrid for about 11 years, and he had been living with her and her husband in Duluth. Murray was another member of their "circle of friends," she said.

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"It's just so sad because they were such good friends," Tilsen said. "It's such a freak accident."

Murray was arrested and is facing felony charges of operating with a prohibited alcohol concentration causing injury, and operating a motor vehicle while revoked causing great bodily harm to another. However, those charges came before Madrid died of his injuries.

Douglas County District Attorney Dan Blank said Wednesday that he was waiting for follow-up reports from the Douglas County Sheriff's Office to determine if additional or increased charges are warranted.

"No definite timetable on that," Blank said. "We have to give law enforcement time for the follow-up investigation."

Murray posted a $1,000 cash bond on Monday, with conditions that she not use or possess alcohol, or operate a motor vehicle without a valid permit or license.

Jerry Moe, chief deputy of the Douglas County Sheriff's Office, confirmed that investigators were aware of the connection between Murray and Madrid. But he had few additional details Wednesday.

"That's what we're looking at now," he said. "We're trying to figure out the hows and the whys and what led to him walking down the road."

Blank said Murray's Aug. 19 preliminary hearing probably would continue with the current charges, but noted that the complaint could be amended at some point.

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An increase in the charges would come only if the investigation shows that Murray's alleged impairment played a significant role in the crash, the district attorney said.

"Would a sober driver under the same conditions be at risk of hitting the person?" Blank said, hypothetically.

Tilsen, expressing dismay that Murray is now facing prison time for the incident, said Madrid had a habit of going out for walks, especially if he became upset about something.

"In the winter, I've gone off looking for him in my car," she said. "If he was mad or pissed off, that's just what he did."

Madrid, who worked in the bakery for Super One Foods, leaves behind an 11-year-old daughter, Tilsen said. She said her own children were "devastated" by the loss of the man that they referred to as "uncle."

"He was such a pleaser," she said. "He always tried to please everyone and make them happy."

Maria Lockwood of the Superior Telegram contributed to this report.

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Ann Murray

Related Topics: CRIMESUPERIOR
Tom Olsen has covered crime and courts for the Duluth News Tribune since 2013. He is a graduate of the University of Minnesota Duluth and a lifelong resident of the city. Readers can contact Olsen at 218-723-5333 or tolsen@duluthnews.com.
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