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Two Harbors man sentenced in Midway Township crash that injured 5

The 36-year-old can avoid further jail time if he makes regular restitution payments to the victims, which include a former Hermantown police chief and his family.

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Two felony convictions will permanently remain on the record of a Two Harbors man who admitted to drinking before a hit-and-run crash that injured five people in Midway Township last summer.

Rodney Drake Scandin Jr., 36, was sentenced Thursday to six years of supervised probation, the terms of which may include annual jail time, for five counts of criminal vehicular operation stemming from the June 27 collision at Midway and Stark roads.

Scandin twice pleaded guilty to the offenses — first on Oct. 30 and again on March 15, after a plea agreement was abandoned and had to be renegotiated because it was criticized by the victims for being too lenient.

The initial agreement called for Scandin to receive a stay of imposition on all counts, which would be deemed misdemeanors upon successful completion of probation. But amid pressure from the victims, some of whom suffered lifelong injuries, a renewed agreement gave Judge Dale Harris broader discretion.

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Rodney Drake Scandin Jr.

While attorneys and the judge repeatedly cautioned the Perich family that there was no possibility of a prison term under state sentencing guidelines, Harris said at Thursday's virtual hearing that he believed a "fairly creative sentencing structure" was appropriate to balance the severity of Scandin's crime and his subsequent actions.

"I do believe that this is felony-level conduct, and with respect to two of the counts, that's the appropriate disposition," Harris said. "Mr. Scandin, I believe you when you say that you're sorry and that you feel remorse. I don't doubt that, frankly, and I commend you for the steps you've already taken in trying to address the underlying causes."

PREVIOUSLY: Two Harbors man withdraws guilty pleas as crash victims seek stiffer sentence While attorneys will revisit the plea agreement, there is still "essentially no possibility" that Rodney Scandin Jr. will go to prison for the crash that permanently altered the lives of a local family.
Harris stayed a 36-month prison term on two of the counts. He granted a stay of imposition on three remaining charges, allowing those to be converted to misdemeanors upon successful completion of probation.

The judge also imposed 150 days in the St. Louis County Jail or the Northeast Regional Corrections Center, staggered in 30-day terms to begin on June 26, the crash anniversary, over each of the next five years. However, he said that time could be forgiven if Scandin is making "significant, regular and on-time monthly payments" toward restitution, the exact amount of which will be determined at a later date.

"I want that to be something that you're able to do, because this case isn't about money, but it's something," Harris said. "And it's an affirmative act you can do to show that you do feel that remorse and that you want to try to make amends for it."

Scandin previously admitted to drinking prior to rear-ending a Subaru driven by former Hermantown Police Chief Dan Perich, who was stopped and waiting to turn when his car was thrown into an oncoming pickup truck.

Dan Perich suffered a concussion, multiple broken ribs and bruised lungs. His son, Thomas Perich, visiting from Florida, ended up spending 24 days in a Minneapolis hospital with a shattered pelvis and severe internal injuries that are expected to bring lifelong complications; he continues to require ongoing surgeries.

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In the attached picture (clockwise from upper left), son Thomas Perich and his wife Angela, son Michael Perich, father Dan Perich, former Hermantown police chief; and puppy Mandu. (Photo courtesy of Stacy Bergstedt)

Thomas' wife, Angela Perich, suffered a broken collarbone, broken toes and a bruised lung in the crash. Michael Perich, Dan's son and Thomas' brother, had broken teeth, a broken nose and multiple lacerations.

A passenger in the truck that struck the Perich's car also was treated for a hairline nose fracture, while two other occupants complained of being sore.

Scandin was located the next day after the St. Louis County Sheriff's Office circulated an image of his damaged truck. According to court documents, he stated that he had consumed two beers while at Grand View Golf Links and that he was reaching for his phone when he failed to see Perich's Subaru stop.

PREVIOUSLY: Two Harbors man reinstates guilty pleas in Midway Road crash that injured 5 The 36-year-old still won't face a prison sentence, but a new agreement could keep felony convictions on his record.
Scandin, who has a prior conviction for driving while impaired in Lake County in 2012, also admitted to leaving the scene because he was scared, according to a criminal complaint.

The victims did not address the court at Thursday's hearing, but three of them gave detailed impact statements at Scandin's first scheduled sentencing in February.

"Thomas is crippled for life," Dan Perich said at the time. "He spent more time in a coma than Scandin will in jail. More time in intensive care, more time in a hospital bed living in my living room, more time in surgery, more time in physical therapy, more time standing on the sidelines watching all the things in life that a 30-year-old wants to take part in, all the while living in extreme pain, which he is condemned to for the rest of his life."

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The St. Louis County Sheriff’s Office sought the public’s assistance in identifying a suspect in a hit-and-run crash on Midway Road in June 2020. (Submitted photo)

Defense attorney Eric Bain said Scandin "made a series of negligent and selfish mistakes" but has since sought out resources for his chemical dependency issues and even took the step of writing an apology letter to the Perich family prior to pleading guilty. Probation officer Cassie Smith joined in his request to impose the originally agreed-upon sentence.

"He knows that he can't turn back time; he can't undo what happened," Bain said. "He can't return any of the Perich family members to their life before this accident. Trust me, he really wishes that he could. All he can control is how he moves forward from his past mistakes."

But St. Louis County prosecutor Nichole Carter said the stronger sentence was appropriate because of the extensive injuries and the fact that Scandin fled the scene.

"This case is extreme in that we have five members of a family that were significantly injured," Carter said. "They're going to deal with lifelong injury, lifelong memories of this accident."

Scandin took another opportunity to apologize before receiving his sentence.

"To see in the photos and the video those injuries, knowing the road that you have ahead of you, it's just something I'll never let myself forget," he said. "I'm ashamed for my actions, and I really want everyone to know that I'm just very, very sorry."

Six years is the maximum probationary term for the offenses under state law. Harris said Scandin could transfer to unsupervised status after five years if he is meeting all terms and conditions.

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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