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Monica Jensen

Rural Dakota County Man Charged with Criminal Vehicular Homicide
Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom announced that Keri James Gesme, age 27, of Hampton Township, has been charged* with 3 counts of Criminal Vehicular Homicide (all felonies) in connection with a crash that occurred on November 8, 2012 in Hampton Township on Highway 50 just outside of New Trier, that took the life of Dennis Paul Underwood, age 27, of Cannon Falls.  The pick-up truck driven by Gesme lost control, struck a tree and ejected both occupants.  Underwood died at the scene.

The following facts are contained in the criminal complaint filed yesterday:

Officers spoke with a witness who stated that he heard a truck leave from right across from his house in the township of Hampton, that the truck was accelerating rapidly and he heard the truck’s wheels squealing when the truck shifted gears, then heard a tire screech and a loud crash.  Officers were dispatched to the scene at approximately 2:40 p.m.  A group of four people arrived at the scene of the crash and identified themselves as the relatives of Gesme.  The family confirmed that the truck belonged to Gesme and stated that he is the only one that ever drives the truck.  One family member stated that it was “bad” if Gesme was driving because he had been drinking since 9:00 that morning.  A blood sample was taken from Gesme at Regions hospital at 4:57 p.m.  Analysis of this sample indicated an alcohol concentration of .20.

The Minnesota State Patrol conducted an accident reconstruction investigation that indicated Gesme was the driver of the vehicle at the time of the crash and that the vehicle was traveling between 83 and 106 miles per hour when it went airborne and struck at least one tree.  This reconstruction also concluded that Underwood’s fatal injuries were a result of his impact with a tree after being ejected from the truck.

Additional facts pertaining to this case can be found online at Criminal Complaint Search.

Backstrom commented:  “This appears to be another tragic example of the dangers of drinking and driving.  Our deepest sympathy is extended to the family and friends of Dennis Underwood for their great loss.”

Backstrom thanked the Minnesota State Patrol and the Dakota County Sheriff’s Office who assisted in this case for their quick and thorough investigation. 

Keri Gesme is not in custody at this time.  A warrant has been issued for his arrest.  If you have questions, contact James Backstrom at 651-438-4440.

*Criminal charges are not evidence of guilt.  A defendant/suspect is presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty.