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Windom woman charged after car crash

JACKSON -- A Windom woman who crashed her car in April is now facing criminal vehicular operation charges in Jackson County District Court.

Judith Rae Conrad, 58, of Windom, is charged with two counts of criminal vehicular operation, reckless driving and speeding-endanger life or property.

The complaint states authorities were dispatched to a personal injury accident at 8:04 p.m. April 10 at the intersection of 480th Avenue and 930th Street. When they arrived, both the driver, Conrad, and her passenger had already been transported to the Windom Area Hospital.

Measurements of tire tracks and gouge marks in the grass led deputies to believe the vehicle, a 2009 Audi R8, rolled or became airborne at least six times before coming to rest right-side up. During the course of travel, the vehicle struck three trees -- all of the damage to the trees was at least five feet off the ground, some estimated 15 to 20 feet above ground level.

Authorities in Jackson asked the Minnesota State Patrol to do a reconstruction analysis of the crash. An investigator from the Jackson County Sheriff's Office indicated a high performance sports car may have been traveling at an unreasonably high speed while attempting to negotiate a low speed curve.

At the scene, the analyst observed physical evidence, noting tire marks where the vehicle had left the road to where it came to a standstill 365 feet away. He found no view obstructions and no evidence of gross accumulations of gravel, ice, oil or sand. Based upon data gathered, he estimated the minimum speed of the vehicle at 120 miles per hour.

From talking to the passenger, a deputy learned she had gotten into Conrad's car in Windom. The passenger said Conrad told her the vehicle was being repossessed the following day and asked her if she wanted a ride. She said Conrad was driving too fast, had already slid past one corner and was traveling over 100 miles per hour when she lost control of the vehicle and rolled.

When asked if Conrad was driving recklessly, the passenger said she didn't know what to say because she didn't want to get her friend in trouble. She stated she didn't think Conrad knew how to handle the power of the sports car.

According to a doctor's report, the passenger suffered a right tibia fracture and a spine crush fracture. The criminal complaint does not specify what injuries Conrad suffered, but states she was taken by helicopter to Sioux Falls, S.D.

In early May, a deputy spoke with Conrad about the crash. She allegedly said she was planning to sell the car the following day, so took her friend for a ride. Conrad stated she was going to go out of town to show her friend what the car would do for "speed and stuff." As she was driving onto the road that becomes Jackson 17, she said she believed she hit an ear of corn, which caused her to lose control of the car. All she remembered, she added, was going sideways through the grass.

Conrad said she believed she was going about 120 miles per hour, and said she was aware she had crashed on a curve. She said she thought she would have been able to get around the curve at 120 miles per hour if she had not hit the corn. She had owned the car for less than six months, she told the deputy, and did not have insurance on the vehicle, having let it lapse about five days before the crash because it cost $1,100 every six months.

She allegedly stated she did not feel it was dangerous to drive 120 miles per hour, because the vehicle was made to go fast.