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Brownsville man pleads not guilty in crash that seriously injured one

CALEDONIA — A Brownsville man has pleaded not guilty to multiple criminal charges after authorities say he caused a three-car crash, then fled the scene in the car of someone who stopped to help the victims.

John Edward Mullen, 22, faces three counts of felony criminal vehicular operation; felony theft; three counts of gross misdemeanor criminal vehicular operation; gross misdemeanor DWI; misdemeanor traffic accident-driver fails to give information; and a petty misdemeanor traffic violation.

Mullen remains in custody in lieu of $75,000 conditional bond. His next court appearance has been set for Sept. 16.

The charges stem from an incident about 3 p.m. July 25, when Houston County deputies responded to a rollover crash involving three cars south of Miller's Corner on Minnesota Highway 16.

Mullen was southbound when the car he was driving crossed the center line, striking first another car, then an SUV, according to the Minnesota State Patrol's investigation. Both vehicles were pushed into the east ditch, the report says, and Mullen's vehicle came to rest upside down in the middle of the highway.


When a motorist from Iowa came upon the crash, he parked next to Mullen's vehicle to check on the drivers involved and saw him getting out of the overturned vehicle through a broken window. The man then checked on the other drivers, the report says.

That's when Mullen stole the Iowa man's car, according to criminal complaint. A deputy who was familiar with Mullen soon located the stolen car — and Mullen — near Hokah. The officer noted injuries to Mullen's leg and arm, bloodshot, watery eyes and a strong odor of alcohol coming from him, the report says.

Mullen allegedly told the deputy he'd left the scene because he was scared. A preliminary breath test showed an alcohol content of 0.221 percent.

All three drivers involved in the crash were taken to the hospital. The driver of the first vehicle Mullen allegedly hit required surgery to remove two pieces of skull from his brain. A titanium plate was placed in the damaged area, the complaint says.

The results of a blood draw taken from Mullen at about 7 p.m. that evening revealed a blood alcohol concentration of 0.12 percent.

The most serious charge — felony theft of a motor vehicle — is punishable by up to five years in prison, a $10,000 fine, or both.

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