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Duluth woman, 77, charged with severely injuring pedestrian in hit-and-run

Peggy Floding will appear in court next month on three felony charges stemming from the July crash that injured Nancy Waters.

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DULUTH — A 77-year-old woman is facing three felony charges for allegedly fleeing the scene of a collision that nearly killed a pedestrian.

Peggy Lorrayne Floding, of Duluth, was charged by summons Tuesday in the July 27 hit-and-run crash along Minnesota Highway 23 in the Fond du Lac neighborhood. The incident left Nancy Waters, 66, hospitalized with numerous injuries.

Floding allegedly claimed a truck caused her to spin into the ditch, telling police she never saw a pedestrian in the process. But investigators said her account was contradicted by physical evidence, conflicting statements and surveillance video.

According to a criminal complaint:

Waters was found on the highway near West Fifth Street shortly after 10 a.m., with 911 callers believing she had been struck by a car that failed to stop at the scene. Bystanders rendered aid until an ambulance transported her to Essentia Health-St. Mary's Medical Center.

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Waters was described as being "in obvious pain and unable to provide information about the accident." She had lacerations and abrasions to her face and body. Doctors indicated she was suffering from life-threatening injuries, including a broken pelvis, leg, foot, rib and internal bleeding.

"The victim's survival depended on the availability of emergency medical care and subsequent medical procedures," the complaint notes.

Police did not find any direct witnesses to the collision, but determined it occurred between 10:07 and 10:12 a.m. A red car mirror was eventually located and investigators determined it came from a Kia Sportage of model years 2014-19.

Using state vehicle registrations to check for matching cars in the area, an officer went to Floding's residence on 101st Ave. W. and found a red Kia Sportage with a missing mirror and grass hanging from the undercarriage.

Floding came outside and spoke with officers, acknowledging that she had driven through the area where Waters was found, but denying that she knowingly collided with a person. She indicated a black pickup truck "zoomed" past her on the right shoulder, causing her to spin around and go into the ditch.

Floding said she did not collide with the black truck and did not see any pedestrians in the area. She went home and then drove to an auto body shop, where she received a $6,854 estimate to repair damage. The defendant said she was the only person to drive the car that day and acknowledged hearing some news regarding a vehicle crash.

Investigators spoke with a neighboring apartment resident who is a second registered owner of the Kia. He stated that Floding had arrived home and told him the car had been hit by another vehicle, but did not give a location.

Investigator Adam Gonnerman conducted an accident reconstruction at the scene, determining Floding's car traveled east through a curve in Highway 23, drifting across the westbound lanes and onto the shoulder, striking Waters with the passenger side. He said the driver traveled into the ditch before getting back on the road, crossing both lanes and onto the opposite shoulder before correcting and driving off.

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Highway 23 is a two-lane, 50-mph thoroughfare at that location, and conditions were clear at the time. Gonnerman determined there were no indications that Floding's car had spun and there were no skid marks left at the scene.

Police searched for surveillance videos of the area, finding footage of Floding's car traveling east on Highway 23 but no footage of any black pickup truck during the time in question.

Gonnerman followed up with Floding, who again maintained that a black truck passed her on the shoulder and caused her to spin out and enter the ditch. She said she believed any damage to her car was caused by the ditch.

Floding is charged with criminal vehicular operation resulting in great bodily harm, failure to remain at the scene of a collision and failure to notify police of a personal injury accident.

A check of court documents revealed only one traffic offense on Floding's record. She is scheduled to be arraigned Sept. 12 in State District Court.

A police statement originally gave an incorrect age for Nancy Waters. This story was updated at 12:19 p.m. Aug. 11 to reflect that she is 66. The story was originally posted at 6:51 p.m. Aug. 10. The News Tribune regrets the error.

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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