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Patrol: Driver in double-fatal Highway 61 crash had 0.41 blood alcohol level

A Florida man who drove the wrong way on the Highway 61 Expressway between Duluth and Two Harbors in July, causing a head-on crash that claimed his life and the life of a 20-year-old Cloquet man, had a blood alcohol content more than five times t...

A Florida man who drove the wrong way on the Highway 61 Expressway between Duluth and Two Harbors in July, causing a head-on crash that claimed his life and the life of a 20-year-old Cloquet man, had a blood alcohol content more than five times the legal limit, authorities said.

Philip Bergerson, 63, of Bonita Springs, Fla., was traveling north in the southbound lanes just before 11 p.m. on July 11 and struck a car traveling southbound just south of Salaka Road near Knife River, the Minnesota State Patrol reported.

The Patrol said Bergerson had a blood alcohol content of 0.41 percent - more than five times the legal limit of .08 percent.  According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a blood alcohol content of .31 percent or higher can be life-threatening and cause loss of consciousness, alcohol poisoning and significant risk of death. NIAAA is a part of the National Institutes of Health.

The driver of the vehicle Bergerson struck, Cole Drechsler, 20, of Cloquet suffered serious injuries and died from those injuries on July 15. Drechsler’s passenger, Sarah Buscher, 19, also of Cloquet, suffered non-life-threatening injuries, according to the Patrol.

The Patrol said it still is unclear where Bergerson, a Two Harbors native, turned on to Highway 61 on the night of the crash; the accident reconstruction report has not yet been completed. The highway is a four-lane, divided expressway where the crash happened.

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Drechsler graduated from Cloquet High School in 2013 and was attending the College of St. Scholastica in Duluth, studying to be a physician attendant.

Related Topics: TWO HARBORSLAKE COUNTYCRIME
Adelle Whitefoot is a former reporter for the Duluth News Tribune.
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