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Charge: Driver used prescription painkillers before fatally striking woman near Princeton

A 69-year-old woman was walking home when she was hit.
Thomas W. Jones

A 55-year-old Minnesota man is facing a charge of criminal vehicular homicide after fatally striking a woman on the side of the road in Sherburne County. 

The fatal collision happened March 23 around 4:25 p.m. on 313th Ave. in Baldwin Township. According to a criminal complaint, Thomas W. Jones, of Princeton, told police that he lost control of his vehicle when he reached for a can of pop while driving eastbound on the roadway. 

According to the complaint, Jones crossed over the center line and westbound lane of traffic and struck 69-year-old Catherine Lynn. Lynn, who the Star Tribune reports was walking home with her partner, died at the scene. 

Jones initially told authorities that he "did not see anyone on the north shoulder prior to the crash," only to later admit that reaching for a can of pop wasn't the reason he lost control of his vehicle, saying he was “not real sure what happened" while maintaining that he never saw the walkers. 

A state trooper believed Jones was impaired at the time of the crash. A drug evaluator at the Sherburne County Jail determined that belief to be true, and Jones confessed to using his normal prescription for  morphine and oxycodone. 

Jones believed that "he is used to the effect of taking these drugs and he does not believe it impacted his ability to safely drive a car," the complaint said. 

Jones has posted bail and is free ahead of his April 15 court appearance, the Star Tribune reports. 

Because of the novel coronavirus outbreak, a memorial service for Lynn has been put on hold. "Due to the mandated health-care precautions, a celebration of life service will be held at a later date," her obituary reads

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