Albert Lea man charged with criminal vehicular operation tied to chase, crash

Published 11:17 am Thursday, February 9, 2023

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Speeds of 140 mph were reported

An Albert Lea man is facing several charges for his role in a single-vehicle crash early Tuesday morning on Interstate 90 in Austin.

Devon McCormick Lee

Devon McCormick Lee, 20, of Albert Lea is facing two felony charges of criminal vehicle operation, a single felony of fleeing a peace officer, two gross misdemeanors of criminal vehicular operation and three misdemeanors including fourth degree DWI, open bottle and speeding.

Lee was the driver of a vehicle that according to a Minnesota State Patrol report lost control and crashed into the median at around 12:02 Tuesday morning. The car also contained two passengers: 19-year-old Gavin Gene Lawson of Albert Lea and a 17-year-old unidentified male, both of whom were transported to Mayo Clinic Health Systems — Austin.

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Lee was in Mower County District Court Wednesday for a first appearance and is scheduled to be back in court on Feb. 16 for an initial appearance.

According to the court complaint, Lee, who was driving a 2016 Acura RDX, was observed by a Minnesota State trooper traveling eastbound at a high rate of speed outside of Austin. The trooper, who was traveling westbound, activated his radar and recorded a speed of 111 mph.

The trooper then observed brake lights, turned around and caught up with the vehicle just west of Oakland Avenue west and observed the Acura overtake another vehicle. A second radar reading indicated a speed of 123 mph in a 65 mph zone.

The trooper initiated pursuit, at which point the Acura, still traveling eastbound, increased speed to 130 mph.

Toward the end of the pursuit, which lasted approximately two minutes and covered three miles, Lee failed to negotiate a curve and overcorrected. The Acura crossed both lanes of travel and collided with the cement barrier with its front end, coming to a rest in the eastbound ditch at milepost 179.

According to Lawson and the juvenile, speeds at one point reached 140 mph. The juvenile allegedly told troopers that Lee sped up after observing the trooper start the pursuit.

Lawson told troopers that earlier in the day all three had been drinking at an Albert Lea residence. During the pursuit, Lawson reportedly asked Lee to slow down when they spotted the trooper and couldn’t understand the need to drive so fast.

When he was questioned, Lee stated he thought they were going around 145 mph at the time of the cash.

A search of the vehicle revealed two 50 ml bottles of alcohol that were not open, an open 750 ml bottle of Hennessy cognac that was approximately three-fourths full and a nearly empty 750 ml bottle of Smirnoff vodka.

Troopers also located a marijuana pipe and a plastic bag containing marijuana residue.

According to the complaint, Lee also allegedly failed every sobriety test he was given, despite claiming that he had nothing to drink since 7 p.m. Monday evening.

A blood test was also sent to the Minnesota Bureau of Investigation for testing.