Authorities: Cloquet woman charged in fatal crash was returning from methadone clinicUPDATE: The 26-year-old Cloquet woman charged today in connection with a crash that killed two Carlton County Highway Department workers was on her way back from a regular visit to a methadone clinic in Brainerd, according to authorities.
By: News Tribune staff, Pine Journal
The 26-year-old Cloquet woman charged today in connection with a crash that killed two Carlton County Highway Department workers was on her way back from a regular visit to a methadone clinic in Brainerd, according to authorities.
Bottles of prescribed liquid methadone were found on the scene of the three-vehicle crash that occurred Monday about 8:45 a.m. between Cromwell and Wright on Minnesota Highway 210.
Vanessa Rae Brigan was charged today in State District Court in Carlton County with two counts of criminal vehicular homicide.
According to the criminal complaint against Brigan, she and her passenger, Jesse David McMillen, 25, each had received a bottle of methadone at the Brainerd clinic early that morning and were returning to Cloquet.
Law enforcement officers investigating the scene found a syringe and a used needle with a small amount of liquid, believed to be methadone, in Brigan’s car and found a bottle of methadone prescribed to Brigan and another syringe in a ditch about 10 feet from Brigan’s car, the complaint said. The items were taken as evidence and sent to the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for analysis.
Methadone prescribed through treatment clinics is meant to be drunk, not injected, methadone professionals say.
The two county workers killed were Zachary M. Gamache, 25, of Esko and Mitchell D. Lingren, 29, of Duluth.
According to the State Patrol, the crash happened when an eastbound 1996 Oldsmobile Aurora, driven by Brigan, which was weaving, crossed the centerline and hit Gamache’s westbound 2004 Ford pickup, a Carlton County Highway Department truck, in its left rear tire. The axle on Gamache’s truck broke and his vehicle veered into oncoming traffic. It sideswiped a 2006 Ford 350 pickup and then hit the gooseneck trailer it was pulling.
Gamache and his passenger, Lingren, were ejected from their truck.
The driver of the second Ford pickup, Christopher G. Hecker, 42, of Nisswa, Minn., escaped with no apparent injury.
Authorities said McMillen fled the scene and was later caught and arrested on an outstanding warrant.
A search of Minnesota court records found more than 30 charges — many of them traffic-related, including more than one driving after revocation — in 22 cases on file against Brigan. She was convicted of driving after revocation on July 5 and pleaded guilty to having no proof of insurance on July 26.
McMillen also has more than 30 criminal counts in 22 cases on his record. The charges include theft, assault, drug use, underage consumption, driving after revocation and fleeing a peace officer.