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Drunken-driving suspect fails to appear in court

A warrant was issued in Douglas County Court on Wednesday for a North Dakota man accused of causing a three-car accident that injured five people at the intersection of U.S. Highway 53 and County Highway B.

A warrant was issued in Douglas County Court on Wednesday for a North Dakota man accused of causing a three-car accident that injured five people at the intersection of U.S. Highway 53 and County Highway B.

Dennis Helmer Amundson, 59, faces felony charges of fifth offense operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated and operating while intoxicated causing injury. The accident took placeAug. 7.

When he failed to appear in court Wednesday for his preliminary hearing, Court Commissioner Paul Baxter revoked his $2,000 cash bail and issued an arrest warrant.

Amundson was on Douglas County Highway B, crossing U.S. Highway 53 to the east about 12:30 p.m. Aug. 7 when he failed to yield for northbound traffic, according to a Douglas County Sheriff's Department report. He drove directly in the path of a northbound car driven by Sonja Mae Carlson of Proctor.

The resulting "severe" impact pushed Amundson's pickup sideways into a truck waiting at the stop sign on the east side, the report said. Carlson, her three children -- ages 8, 6 and 3 -- and South Range resident Theresa Farmer, who was driving the stopped vehicle, were injured and taken to St. Mary's Medical Center in Duluth. All four members of the Carlson family had various cuts, scratches and bruises. Sonja Carlson also was immobilized in a neck brace.

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Deputy Chris Hoyt allegedly found an opened 12-pack of beer in the passenger seat of Amundson's truck, with two of the cans open and empty.

Authorities said the North Dakota man smelled strongly of alcohol and failed a number of sobriety tests. He told Wisconsin State Trooper Don Magdzas that he had consumed a 12-pack of beer the previous night and indicated he had one beer that day.

Magdzas asked Amundson if he thought he was under the influence of alcohol.

"I probably have carryover from last night," he said.

If convicted, the defendant faces a maximum combined penalty of seven years in jail and a $12,000 fine.

By failing to appear, Amundson also defaulted on two traffic citations -- failure to yield the right of way and operating a motor vehicle with no valid license.

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