Driver Charged In Wrong-Way Crash

Driver Charged In Wrong-Way Crash Click to Enlarge Photo: Stearns County Jail

(KNSI) - The man police say caused a wrong-way crash that killed two people in Waite Park has been charged.

Charlie Ray Barnett is facing two felony counts of criminal vehicular homicide-operating a motor vehicle in a grossly negligent manner and one count of violating a domestic abuse no contact order.

Witnesses say Barnett was driving a Chevy Malibu westbound on Division Street well over the speed limit when he went through the median, struck a sign and went into the eastbound lanes hitting an El Camino head-on around 7:15 on Monday night.

Two people in the El Camino, Richard Tomlinson, 61, of Grantsburg, Wisconsin and Roger Nelson, 77, of Clearwater, were killed.

Police say it didn’t appear that the St. Cloud man tried to slow down or avoid the crash in any way.

According to the criminal complaint, an aerosol bottle of dusting cleaner was found on the driver’s side floor where Barnett had been sitting.

Officer say surveillance video showed Barnett leaving Best Buy after purchasing two cans of dusting cleaner at 7:12 p.m.

Investigators say the 28-year-old has a history of huffing dusting cleaner and was seen huffing a week earlier.

The Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension took a blood sample from Barnett and is waiting for the results.

Barnett told hospital staff that he had an anxiety attack and doesn’t remember what happened.

The car Barnett was driving belonged to a woman Barnett has children with.

After the crash, the car's owner was located and she said Barnett was at her home earlier that day and must have grabbed the keys as he walked out the door.

Barnett is barred from seeing the woman because of a domestic abuse no contact order issued in January.

He was arrested on Sunday on suspicion of violating a domestic abuse no contact order and released hours before the crash.

In March, Barnett was charged with DWI. His bond was set at $1,000,000 with conditions and $500,000 without conditions.

Barnett's next court date is scheduled for July 23rd.


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