Iron Range man sent to prison for fatal crash
Matthew Kirkpatrick admitted to using meth prior to the January 2021 head-on collision that killed Larry Meyer.
DULUTH — A Keewatin man has been sentenced to four years in prison for a methamphetamine-fueled crash that killed a Hibbing man in Greenway Township in January 2021.
Matthew Jesse Kirkpatrick, 39, received the sentence Monday from Judge Korey Wahwassuck in State District Court in Grand Rapids. Kirkpatrick pleaded guilty earlier this year to criminal vehicular homicide and fifth-degree possession of a controlled substance following the death of Larry Peter Meyer, 69.
The head-on collision occurred along U.S. Highway 169 near Snowball Lake, just after 5 a.m. Jan. 17, 2021. A Minnesota State Patrol trooper observed that Kirkpatrick's 2003 Ford Explorer appeared to have crossed the center line and struck Meyer's 2019 Dodge Ram. The road was damp but not snow-covered, according to the Patrol.
A criminal complaint states that Meyer, who was not wearing a seat belt, was pronounced dead at the scene. Kirkpatrick, who was belted, sustained "significant injuries," including broken legs, cuts and bruises.
As paramedics worked on Kirkpatrick, they discovered a butane torch in his pocket and a bubble-wrapped broken class tube containing white residue, according to the complaint. Troopers additionally found a small plastic container with a white substance believed to be meth.
Kirkpatrick was hospitalized in intensive care for several days, the complaint states. When a trooper followed up with him on March 1, he stated that he was in a medically induced coma for eight days and underwent several surgeries.
Kirkpatrick allegedly stated that he had been using meth every day or two since December 2020 and that he had done so approximately two days before the crash. He said he did not remember the collision or anything in the week prior to it.
A State Patrol accident reconstruction report showed that there were no skid marks on the road or other factors that would have caused the crash. While precise speed data could not be acquired, Kirkpatrick's speedometer was stuck at 57 mph and Meyer's at 62 mph. Data suggested Meyer hit the brakes and attempted to steer right just over a second before the collision, according to the report.
Toxicology reports later showed that Kirkpatrick's blood contained methamphetamine and amphetamine, according to the complaint. The substance seized from Kirkpatrick also was determined to be meth by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension laboratory.
Kirkpatrick has prior impaired driving convictions from 2006 and 2017, and received a stay of adjudication for a felony fifth-degree controlled substance crime in 2017.
Defense attorney Layne Chiodo filed a motion ahead of Monday's sentencing to stay a prison term and place her client on probation, saying Kirkpatrick had taken responsibility and "is particularly amenable to a relevant program of individualized treatment in a probationary setting."
But Judge Wahwassuck sided with Itasca County Attorney Matti Adam, who noted the defendant's DWI history and described him as a "public safety risk."