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Man arrested for impaired driving incident

WORTHINGTON -- A Fulda man arrested earlier this week was charged Wednesday with his fourth impaired driving-related incident in the past several years, but this time he was allegedly in possession of a stolen vehicle.

Christopher Daniel Hawkinson, 28, has an arrest record that dates back to possession of marijuana in 2007. That same year, while on a hold in the mental health unit in Worthington for feeling homicidal, he escaped from the unit and was located two days later in Fulda. Since that time, he has faced charges of fifth-degree controlled substance possession, fleeing a peace officer, hit and run, trespassing, violating a restraining order and possession of a firearm, and had his driver's license cancelled inimical to public safety after his third DWI charge.

He is currently charged with receiving stolen property, driving while impaired, two counts of theft and driving after cancellation.

The complaint states authorities were informed of a vehicle versus pole crash that had happened early that morning.

The complainant said Hawkinson had been at his house the night before driving a Dodge Durango. He had stayed the night, then hit an electric pole when leaving that morning. Others who had stayed at the house spoke with Hawkinson afterward, and he said he was fine and drove off. Hawkinson was the only person in the vehicle, the complainant and witnesses said.

A deputy from the Nobles County Sheriff's Office photographed the crash site and gathered a headlight, blinker cover and a vehicle emblem from the scene. On the way to Hawkinson's residence, the deputy found him walking along the road. He was visibly upset, stating he was tired of being harassed by police. He confirmed staying the night at a friend's house, but denied driving, stating he had gotten a ride from a man he knew as Fast Eddie, who was driving a black Durango.

The Nobles County Sheriff's Office received a report at 1:27 a.m. Tuesday that a man wearing a gray T-shirt and a bandana had gone to a location on Zeh Avenue asking for water for an overheated vehicle. Authorities that responded to the call found a black Durango parked on the road. As a sergeant drove up to the vehicle, he saw the interior lights were on and a man fitting the description was by the driver's door. Upon seeing the lights on the squad car, the man dropped to his knees and put his hands behind his head, identifying himself as Hawkinson and stating he had not been driving.

When the sergeant noted there were no plates on the vehicle, he asked Hawkinson if it had been stolen. Hawkinson replied that it probably had been. He said "Jose" had been driving and had taken off running from the scene. The sergeant secured Hawkinson in his squad car, then returned to the suspect vehicle and located license plates on the floor by the front passenger seat. The plates were run through dispatch, and the vehicle came back as stolen from Lyon County.

No grass near the passenger seat was flattened, but showed prints ran from the driver's door to the front of the vehicle, where the hood was up and steam was coming from the radiator. Several items were found on the passenger seat, which would have made it difficult for a person to sit there. There were several dents in the vehicle, and a keychain was found near the driver's door. The ignition key for the Durango was not among the keys found.

A deputy who took over the investigation was aware from previous contact with Hawkinson that his license was cancelled. A K-9 search was done from the passenger side of the vehicle, with no human scent being indicated.

Hawkinson told the deputy he had left prescription drugs and a sleeping aid drug in the vehicle, and said he had just taken a prescription drug that was making him feel tired and cold. He said a man he knew as Jose Garcia had picked him up at his home, but the vehicle broke down. He then changed his story, and said Jose had picked him up between 11 p.m. and midnight and they had gone to Dundee, then stopped at a farm place near Dundee when the vehicle started to overheat.

He consented to a blood test, which had been sent to the Minnesota Bureau of Apprehension.

The stolen vehicle report indicates the Durango was stolen from a greenhouse nursery near Marshall. The deputy who had investigated the report of a vehicle versus pole crash the day before retrieved the pieces of the vehicle that had been placed into evidence. The headlight cover matched perfectly, but the blinker cover was too broken to match up.

Hawkinson's first DWI conviction was in 2009 in Yellow Medicine County, with a second conviction the same year in Murray County. His driving privileges were revoked in February from an alcohol-related incident that took place in December 2011.

Hawkinson is scheduled to make his initial appearance June 5 in Nobles County District Court.