Motorist in deadly Lake Elmo crash that killed 5 year old may have been drinking: search warrant

A newly filed search warrant, obtained by FOX 9, indicates the Minnesota State Patrol is investigating this weekend’s deadly traffic crash in Lake Elmo, in which a little 5-year-old girl was killed, as a potential case of intoxicated driving.

The search warrant, sworn out by Trooper Brian Schwartz, asks a Ramsey County District Court judge to sign off on a blood draw from the suspected, impaired driver after the Saturday night crash.

MnDOT traffic cameras largely captured what happened. Chris Petersen’s car stalled in the left, eastbound lane of traffic on Highway 36. Petersen apparently had on his hazard lights and was trying to push the car onto the shoulder when a motorist in a Nissan Pathfinder plowed into the vehicle at highway speeds.

Petersen dove back into the car in the nick of time, but his daughter Morgan, who was strapped in, in the back passenger seat suffered catastrophic injuries. She subsequently died.

A search warrant filed Tuesday details the trooper on scene, suspecting the driver who struck the Petersens, was under the influence of intoxicating substances. He wrote to the court in the sworn filing that he could smell the odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from the motorist.

The document reads in part:

"From the investigation, peace officers concluded that at the time the Person was driving, operating, or controlling the motor vehicle, the Person was under the influence of a combination of alcohol and controlled substance(s), or intoxicating substance(s), based upon the following facts:

"(The suspect motorist) crashed into a vehicle stalled in the left lane with hazard lights flashing. I could smell the odor of an alcoholic beverage coming from (the suspect). He also admitted to drinking two beers earlier. I was unable to perform SFST's or PBT due to the ambulance wanting to leave."

On Monday, when FOX 9 sat down with Chris Petersen, before the filing of the search warrant, Petersen said it was his impression investigators were looking at the possibility this was a case of intoxicated driving.

"So, if he was drunk driving and he killed my little girl, I hope he does not get mercy from the judge or a plea bargain or any of that," Petersen said at the time. "I think he should get what he has coming to him. He took somebody’s entire life away from them, and not only her life, but what he did to her family with his actions. I had my hazards on and he did not even try to slow down."

FOX 9 is not naming the driver as no criminal charges have been filed at this point. The search warrant states the 47-year-old from Saint Paul admitted to drinking two beers before the crash.

After Judge Stephen Smith signed off on the request, investigators took two vials of blood from the suspect at Region’s Hospital for testing.