Published March 21 2012
25-year-old faces manslaughter charge linked to Nov. 5 crash near Amenia
Keagan Allan Haas of Page also is charged with aggravated reckless driving, driving under suspension and driving without liability insurance. He made his first appearance Wednesday in Cass County District Court on charges filed March 9. Bail was set at $10,000 cash or bond.
According to the North Dakota Highway Patrol’s report, Haas was driving a 1998 Suburban on State Highway 18, two miles north of Amenia, just before 1 a.m. on a Saturday when the vehicle went off a curve, entered a ditch and vaulted over an approach. It struck a stop sign while airborne and rolled when it landed in a field, the report states.
Haas and two passengers were ejected from the vehicle. Joshua Melvin, 30, of Page, was pronounced dead at the scene. Haas and a female passenger, Jody Arttus, 43, of West Fargo, were hospitalized with multiple injuries.
Troopers found empty beer cans in the vehicle, as well as a cooler with three beers on ice, the report states.
Medical records from Sanford Health showed Haas had a blood alcohol concentration of .075 percent within an hour to an hour and a half after the crash, the report states. The legal limit for driving in North Dakota is .08 percent.
Haas also received units of blood at the hospital, which may have diluted his blood, lowering the BAC level, the report states.
A blood sample tested at the state crime lab indicated Haas also had prescription drugs in his system, Assistant State’s Attorney Cherie Clark said.
A witness told the patrol that the Suburban passed him at a “very high rate of speed” before it crashed, the report states.
Haas’ cellphone records showed he received a text message within one to two minutes of the crash being reported, the report states.
Haas told a trooper that he didn’t remember what happened before he drove off the roadway, the report states. He told the trooper he had started drinking at about 7:30 p.m. that night but
couldn’t remember how many drinks he had, the report states.
Pat O’Day, the public defender appointed Wednesday to represent Haas, had no comment, according to a woman who answered the phone at his office.
Haas faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of the Class B felony manslaughter charge. The aggravated reckless driving charge, which stems from the injuries to Arttus, carries up to one year in prison.
Arttus told the patrol that Haas picked her up at about 8:30 p.m. and they stopped at bars in Page, Arthur and Amenia before the crash, the report states.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528
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