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Two Harbors man pleads guilty in alcohol-fueled crash that injured 5

Rodney Drake Scandin Jr., 36, is expected to receive six years of probation, with terms that include jail time, when he is sentenced in December.

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A Two Harbors man admitted he was under the influence of alcohol when he caused a hit-and-run crash that injured five people in Midway Township this summer.

Rodney Drake Scandin Jr., 36, pleaded guilty Friday in State District Court in Duluth to five felony charges of criminal vehicular operation in the June 27 incident at Midway and Stark roads .

Authorities said a Subaru car occupied by four family members was stopped and waiting to turn onto Stark Road when it was rear-ended by Scandin's Ford F-150 pickup truck. The Subaru was thrown sideways into the southbound lane of Midway Road, where it was T-boned by an oncoming Chevrolet pickup truck with an attached trailer.

According to a criminal complaint, Scandin left the scene, but later turned himself in to authorities. He reportedly told investigators he had just left a golf course, where he had consumed two beers, and was reaching for his phone at the time of the collision โ€” adding that he left the scene because he was scared.

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Rodney Drake Scandin Jr.jpg
Rodney Drake Scandin Jr.

Scandin was originally charged with criminal vehicular operation under the premise that he had left the scene of a collision, but those five counts were amended under the terms of a plea agreement to indicate that he was impaired by alcohol. A misdemeanor traffic offense was also dismissed by the St. Louis County Attorney's Office.

The plea agreement calls for Scandin to receive a stay of imposition, which would allow the felonies to be deemed misdemeanors, should he successfully complete six years of probation.

Per the terms, he could be required to spend up to 150 days in jail, staggered in 30-day terms over the next five years โ€” though he would be eligible for work release and may have time forgiven if he makes regular restitution payments.

Judge Dale Harris ordered an investigation into Scandin's background ahead of a Dec. 17 sentencing date.

According to court documents:

St. Louis County deputies arriving at the crash scene found the Chevrolet pressed against the passenger side of the Subaru in the ditch along Midway Road.

Witnesses reported that the Subaru was stopped in the northbound lane with its turn signal activated when it was struck from behind by a maroon truck, which left the scene. The driver of the Chevrolet also indicated he believed the Subaru was struck from behind and that he did not have enough time to react before broadsiding the vehicle.

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The Subaru's driver, Dan Perich, suffered a concussion, multiple broken ribs and bruised lungs. The front-seat passenger, Thomas Perich, had a shattered pelvis and severe internal injuries, which were expected to involve months of "complete immobilization at a rehab facility, followed by extensive physical therapy," according to the family.

The left-rear passenger, Angela Perich, was taken to a hospital with a broken collarbone, broken toes and a bruised lung. The right-rear passenger, Michael Perich, was being treated for injuries including broken teeth, a broken nose and multiple lacerations.

One passenger in the Chevrolet was treated for a hairline nose fracture. The two other occupants complained of being sore, but declined treatment.

Investigators examined debris at the scene, which indicated the hit-and-run vehicle was an F-150 with model years of 2009-15. Surveillance footage from a nearby business also showed a maroon F-150 driving by with clear damage to its front bumper and grill.

Scandin contacted the sheriff's office later that night, about two hours after authorities issued a news release with a photo of the damaged truck.

In a statement, Scandin reported that he was leaving the Grand View Golf Links in Duluth and driving north on Midway Road when he bent down and reached for his phone. He stated he saw brake lights as he struck the Subaru from behind. Scandin admitted he did not stop at the scene or attempt to contact police.

Scandin has a prior conviction for driving while impaired in Lake County in 2012, according to court records.

A GoFundMe page subsequently raised more than $43,000 for the Perich family.

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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