Distracted Driver Gets Jail Time for Fatal Crash on U.S. 52 in St. Paul

A 23-year-old woman who rear-ended a stopped automobile on U.S. 52 in St. Paul while speeding and perhaps inattentive, setting off a series of collisions that left one man dead, was given a 123-day prison term on Monday. Five years of probation and a five-year jail term with a stay of execution are part of the arrangement.

Previously, Megan Charol Severson of Preston, Minnesota, entered a guilty plea to criminal vehicular homicide in April in relation to the collision that claimed the life of Anthony Keli Kawino, 33, of Burnsville on October 17, 2019.

Severson’s April plea deal with prosecutors was approved by Ramsey County District Judge JaPaul Harris on Monday. He noted that Severson admitted fault for the collision and expressed regret to Kawino’s family both before and during a mediation session with them.

Severson is anticipated to serve the first 90 days of his sentence at the Fillmore County Jail beginning on August 1 and complete the remainder of it by the year 2026. In response to a plea from the family of Kawino, the judge mandated that Severson report to jail on the day of Kawino’s passing starting in 2023.

Severson is required to discuss the collision in a driver’s education class as well.

The magistrate declared, “It was an accident.” However, warn others to avoid having a similar accident.

On hearing of a multiple-vehicle collision, Minnesota State Patrol officers were dispatched to the northbound lanes of U.S. 52 near Plato Boulevard at at 12:30 p.m. They discovered four automobiles, including Severson’s Chevrolet Malibu and a Saturn sedan, that were involved in the collision, along with several injured persons and Kawino’s body.

The Saturn and two other cars were stopped in traffic, and witnesses informed cops that the Chevrolet, which was moving in the right lane, had evidently missed seeing them. The Saturn was then struck by the Chevrolet, which set off a series of collisions with the other two cars.

Severson informed the troopers that she was switching from the left to the right lane and failed to see that the right lane’s traffic had halted. According to the criminal complaint, she said she didn’t have enough time to stop the automobile before hitting the Saturn from behind.

Kawino was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the collision, and the impact propelled him toward the front of the vehicle.

The injured were transferred to the hospital for treatment, including Severson. According to Severson, she was traveling at roughly 55 mph, which is the legal limit. At the time of the collision, she denied using her phone, eating, drinking, or listening to her radio. She claimed that because her sunroof was open, there was a glare on the dashboard. When she noticed that traffic had stopped in front of her, she slammed on the brakes.

Severson changed lanes 20 seconds before to the collision, and no “evasive action” to prevent the collision was shown in the video footage from traffic control cameras. According to data from her automobile, she was traveling at a pace of roughly 70 mph only seconds before the collision—15 mph over the legal limit. She may have attempted to brake in the last split second prior to the collision, but she still collided with the Saturn at a minimum impact speed of 59 mph, according to the report.

Severson’s phone was emptied of all texts and calls in the moments before the collision. According to a Minnesota State Patrol crash reconstruction, unless Severson intentionally meant to impact the other vehicles, distraction was the “only probable reason for (her) to fail to recognize the slower traffic,” according to the complaint.

On Monday, Kawino’s parents and three younger siblings sat in the courtroom, occasionally sobbing and holding one another. His mother, brother, and sister were all dressed in white t-shirts with the words “Fly High” and a picture of him on them.

In a statement delivered to the court by Ramsey County prosecutor Cory Tennison, Kawino’s mother, Elizabeth, described how she had a particular affinity with her first child. After tasting her food, he would stroke his tummy because he enjoyed it.

He was “someone I could look up to,” according to Kawino’s sister Caroline, and “one of my biggest supporters,” she told the court. He is missed.

Through tears, Severson expressed her regret to his family, saying, “I truly apologize for my acts.”

Tennison informed the judge that Severson’s actions were a “horrific accident” and that both the defense and prosecution carefully considered the plea deal.

Tennison added, “I hope this conclusion offers some kind of peace for this family. I won’t claim to understand their loss completely.

Tennison said he hopes the incident serves as a lesson to other aspiring drivers, telling them to “cut it out when it comes to distracted driving.” “There might be dreadful repercussions,”

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