Tom Cherveny, Forum News Service, Published March 24 2014
Father, son face charges in party that led to student's death
The charges follow the March 9 death of a Dawson-Boyd High School senior and athlete, Michael Anyasike, 18, of Dawson. He died of hypothermia with alcohol as a contributing factor about 12 hours after having fled the party in rural Lac qui Parle County and being discovered at a farm site about one mile to the northwest, according to the Lac qui Parle County Sheriff’s Office.
Erik Hastad, 19, of rural Dawson, is alleged to have hosted the party where underage drinking occurred at an unoccupied farm site formerly owned by his late uncle. Hastad appeared Monday in District Court in Montevideo via interactive TV on a misdemeanor charge of violating the social host ordinance and on a gross misdemeanor charge of contributing to the delinquency of a child.
His father, Gary Hastad, 59, also faces a misdemeanor for violating the social host ordinance. He was notified by summons and will appear in court at a later date. He is not accused of being at the party. The complaint charges that Gary Hastad should have known about the party, which would make him accountable under the social host ordinance, according to information from Lac qui Parle County Attorney Richard Stultz.
According to the complaint, individuals interviewed about the party indicated that previous parties had been held there, and snow had been cleared to the otherwise unoccupied farm home. It is located on the same rural roadway as Gary Hastad’s farm home, and there were about 20 vehicles at the party site when law officers arrived, according to the complaint.
The county attorney has also filed charges against six persons, ages 18 to 20, for fleeing police officers and underage consumption. Underage consumption charges have also been filed against three juveniles.
An estimated 100 people — some in high school and others college age — from the Dawson-Boyd, Lac qui Parle Valley and Montevideo school districts are believed to have attended the party on March 8, according to the complaint.
The complaint describes how nine or more youths fled the rural farm house by jumping out of windows as three law officers arrived about midnight. Some of the youths broke windows as they fled.
The youths disappeared into the dark wearing only light clothing and T-shirts. Law officers were concerned about their safety due to the weather, the complaint stated.
The officers searched for the youths who had fled and used loudspeakers to urge them to return to the warmth of the house. The officers also asked those inside the house to call their friends and encourage them to return for their safety, according to the complaint.
Lac qui Parle County Sheriff Rick Halvorson went through the home about one hour after the party as part of the search that was under way for Michael Anyasike. The sheriff reported that the house smelled of alcoholic beverages and that he saw numerous empty beer boxes, a stereo and lighting system, a Christmas tree decorated with beer cans and bottles, and bottles and cans of beer in various locations in the house.
The house was secured, and law officers returned during the day with a search warrant. They seized a variety of alcoholic containers, but also noted that items that had been seen the previous night — including beer boxes, the Christmas three, stereo system and lights — were no longer there.
Persons interviewed by law officers alleged that Erik Hastad had sent text messages inviting them to attend, and that others had learned of the party by word-of-mouth. One individual said that Hastad would typically stand at the door and greet those arriving to parties held there. There was no cover charge, and many brought their own beer, according to the complaint.
The county attorney requested a warrant for the arrest of Erik Hastad, noting that the “circumstances of the party put many individuals at jeopardy.’’
Erik Hastad has four prior convictions for underage consumption, according to court records. He was scheduled for a bail hearing on Monday and was expected to be released on his own recognizance, said the county attorney.
The defendant’s uncle, Keith Hastad, had died in a grain bin accident at the farm site at age 58 on Aug. 2, 2010.