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Eveleth man charged with vehicular homicide

The defendant said he lost control in wintry conditions, but troopers suspected drug impairment.

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DULUTH — An Eveleth man allegedly had methamphetamine in his system when he crashed a van along U.S. Highway 53 last year, killing a 75-year-old passenger.

Douglas Lee Anderson, 68, was arraigned Tuesday in State District Court in Virginia in the Nov. 29 death of Stanley Giles Erkkila.

Douglas Lee Anderson.jpg
Douglas Lee Anderson

The Minnesota State Patrol said Anderson was driving north, approximately 15 miles south of Eveleth, when he lost control of the 1989 GMC Rally Wagon on a snowy and icy roadway. When troopers were called to the scene around 4 p.m., they determined the van had rolled several times across the median before coming to rest on the southbound lanes.

Erkkila, who was strapped into a wheelchair, was pronounced dead at the scene, according to a criminal complaint. Anderson was found nearby with a cut to his face, along with Erkkila's 47-year-old daughter, who had also been a passenger.

The complaint states that troopers noticed signs of Anderson being impaired and obtained a blood sample, but he denied the use of any controlled substances.

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Anderson allegedly stated he was driving 60-65 mph in the right lane when he moved into the left lane to pass another vehicle, losing control in the winter conditions. But multiple witnesses said the van had passed them at speeds too fast for the conditions, according to the complaint.

Analysis of the blood sample later showed that Anderson had both methamphetamine and amphetamine in his system at the time of the crash, the complaint states.

The complaint does not state Anderson's relation to the Erkkilas, but public records have listed all three as living at the same Eveleth address.

Anderson was charged by summons in March, but failed to show for an initial court appearance in April. A warrant was issued at that time, resulting in his arrest Tuesday.

A check of Minnesota court records reveals only one seat-belt violation on Anderson's record.

Judge Bhupesh Pattni set Anderson's bail at $50,000. His next court appearance was scheduled for May 25.

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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