Crookston Times - Crookston, MN
  • Minn. woman, 69, charged in hit-and-run accident

  • A 69-year-old Esko woman was charged Wednesday in Carlton County Court with one felony count of criminal vehicular operation/leaving the scene of an accident in connection with a hit-and-run crash that injured a bicyclist Sunday morning.
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  • A 69-year-old Esko woman was charged Wednesday in Carlton County Court with one felony count of criminal vehicular operation/leaving the scene of an accident in connection with a hit-and-run crash that injured a bicyclist Sunday morning.
    Carol Emily Nygren was apprehended about 11 a.m. Monday and was booked into the Carlton County Jail. She appeared before Judge Robert Macaulay for an initial appearance Wednesday, with a group of six family members, including her husband, in attendance.
    Macaulay granted Nygren’s application for a public defender and said she would be notified later in the day regarding her assigned attorney.
    Carlton County Attorney Thom Pertler referred to the bike collision and Nygren’s subsequent flight as “a tragic series of events.” He further reported that he had received a medical update on the victim, Michael Howard Norton, 43, of Duluth, that morning.
    “The initial report stated that he had incurred ‘great bodily harm,’ ” Pertler said. “While I cannot give out specifics at this point, I can say that assessment continues to be accurate.”
    Pertler suggested that Macaulay, in considering bail, take into account that during the initial interviews with Nygren, officers stated that she showed “no signs of remorse or acknowledgement of wrongdoing.”
    Sonia Sturdevant, acting as Nygren’s public attorney for Wednesday’s court appearance, responded by saying Nygren is innocent until proven guilty.
    Probation officer Steve Johnson reported that Nygren has no previous criminal history. Sturdevant then told Macaulay that Nygren is a longtime resident of Esko and has a husband and adult children and requested that she be considered for pretrial release.
    Macaulay set bail at $20,000 bond or $2,000 cash and agreed to have Nygren interviewed by probation officials with an eye toward granting pretrial conditional release.
    According to the complaint filed in the case, Carlton County sheriff’s deputies responded about 11 a.m. Sunday to a report of a bicyclist who had been hit from behind by a car traveling east on Highway 61 at the intersection with Rolling Road.
    When deputies arrived at the scene, emergency personnel were already attending to the victim, later identified as Norton. The complaint said Norton was lying on the gravel portion of Rolling Road and indicated he had been struck with such force that he came out of his tennis shoes. His bicycle was lying in a nearby ditch. Also found at the scene was a piece of plastic thought to be left behind by the vehicle that struck Norton.
    The complaint said a witness told authorities that she saw the collision in her rearview mirror, and that the motorist stopped to check on the victim.
    Officers at the scene observed that the vehicle had gone down into the ditch of Highway 61 for about 377 feet before coming back out and continuing eastbound along Highway 61.
    Page 2 of 2 - Norton was immediately transported to St. Luke’s Medical Center in Duluth. The investigation continued in an attempt to locate the driver who had struck Norton.
    A witness indicated the vehicle spotted at the scene could be one that met the description of a vehicle belonging to Nygren. When authorities spoke with Nygren at her residence, she admitted that she had been on her way home from church in Scanlon in the vehicle being sought by authorities. However, according to the complaint, she told officers that she had been travelling behind an older model pickup truck that had rocks falling out of the bed and claimed to have swerved to avoid getting hit by the gravel when she went into the ditch and then continued home. When she arrived home, she said she showed her husband the damage and he then moved the vehicle into the detached garage.
    When Nygren agreed to show officers the vehicle, they observed extensive damage to the front bumper area and hood and a crushed windshield and roof on the passenger side. The complaint said the officers believed the damage to be too extreme to have been caused by falling gravel.
    After additional witness interviews the following morning, a Minnesota State Patrol reconstruction expert compared the measurements at the scene to Nygren’s vehicle and Norton’s bicycle. The resulting report concluded that Nygren’s vehicle did strike the bicycle, throwing Norton into the front hood and windshield area and causing severe injuries that constituted great bodily harm.
    Nygren was then arrested and taken to the Carlton County Law Enforcement Center.
    Her next court appearance is scheduled for July 17.
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