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Driver Charged In Wrong-Way Waite Park Fatal Crash

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – A 28-year-old St. Cloud man was charged Wednesday in a fatal crash in Waite Park Monday night that left two men dead.

Charlie Barnett was charged with two counts of criminal vehicular homicide and violating a domestic abuse no contact order in connection with the case.

Roger Nelson, 77, and 61-year-old Richard Tomlinson of Grantsburg, Wis., were out test-driving Nelson's 1970 Chevrolet El Camino that Tomlinson was potentially buying. Barnett, driving the wrong way on Division Street, hit the El Camino. The crash killed both Nelson and Tomlinson.

According to court records, Barnett had just gotten out of jail that day for violating an order for protection.

The crash happened at about 7:15 p.m. Monday on Division Street at Second Avenue South in Waite Park. The complaint states when officers got to the scene, they went up to Barnett's Chevrolet Malibu and noticed an aerosol bottle of dusting cleaner on the driver's side floor, where Barnett had been sitting. Officers were told Barnett has a history of huffing dusting cleaner, and as recently as a week before he was seen huffing dusting cleaner and falling over.

The complaint states witnesses at the scene said Barnett's Malibu was driving at a high rate of speed. The vehicle, heading westbound, drove through the median and hit a sign near Division Street and Second Avenue before crossing into the eastbound lane. Barnett didn't slow down, or try to avoid the crash in any way. Witnesses said Barnet was acting strange, and his eyes appeared bloodshot after the crash.

According to the complaint, Barnett was spotted in the Best Buy parking lot just before the crash, and a man matching Barnett's description was seen buying two cans of dusting cleaner just before the crash.

Barnett was taken to St. Cloud Hospital to be treated for injuries after the crash. He was heard saying at the hospital that he had an anxiety attack, doesn't remember what happened and remembered waking up on the grass.

The complaint states the Malibu Barnett was driving was registered to a woman he has a child with. She also has a domestic abuse no contact order against him, and he was at her apartment before the crash. He left her apartment at about 6:30 p.m., and she said he must have grabbed her keys.

Barnett faces more than 20 years in prison.


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