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Slayton man charged with texting and driving after seriously injuring man

ADRIAN — A Slayton man was charged this week with several traffic infractions — including texting while driving — related to striking and severely injuring a man with his vehicle in January near Adrian.

Wesley J. Leysen, 19, of Slayton faces careless driving, duty to drive with due care, failure to drive in a single lane and a use of wireless communications device in motion or traffic, all petty misdemeanors, in Nobles County District Court.

According to the criminal complaint, two men were looking for two cows that got out of the pen around 23798 Edwards Ave. on Jan. 17 in Adrian. With the victim’s vehicle parked on the shoulder of Nobles County 15, the victim was in a nearby ditch using a spotlight searching for the cows when Leysen allegedly drove his vehicle into the ditch and struck the man. Leysen called 911, and Nobles County deputies responded at 8:13 p.m.

Upon arrival, the deputy witnessed a man lying in the ditch that was bleeding heavily from the face and head. He was conscious and responsive. He was transported to Sanford Medical Center in Worthington, where he was later airlifted to Sioux Falls, S.D. The victim survived.

In statements made to law enforcement, Leysen said he was heading south and admittedly not paying attention. He later noticed a vehicle that he alleged had their high beam headlights shining. In an attempt to avoid colliding with the parked vehicle, he swerved, which caused him to enter the ditch and strike the man, he said. The vehicle was towed.

A breath test indicated Leysen was not under the influence of alcohol, although he admitted to smoking a small amount of marijuana. He stated he may have been adjusting the radio dial, but was not using his cell phone.

A search warrant was granted for Leysen’s phone. The search allegedly showed that Leysen’s phone sent and received text messages periodically during a 20-minute time frame leading up to when he used it to contact 911. The messages had allegedly been deleted on Leysen’s physical phone.

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