Charges: Driver was on drugs when he hit, killed toddler in stroller

The toddler's 16-year-old aunt was also seriously injured in the crash.
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The driver of a pickup truck involved in a hit-and-run that left a 2-year-old boy dead was allegedly high at the time of the crash.

Jake Place, 38, of Nashwauk, Minnesota, was allegedly behind the wheel of a Dodge pickup that struck Alexia Carroll as she pushed her toddler nephew Logan Klennert in a stroller at 1:17 p.m. on Thursday on Hwy. 65 north of Nashwauk.

The pickup crossed onto the shoulder, hitting the pair from behind, causing serious injuries to Carroll that may require the amputation of her foot, and fatal injuries to the toddler.

Place has been charged with two counts of criminal vehicular homicide, include one charge for operating a vehicle while under the influence of a controlled substance.

Police came across the damaged Dodge, which had left the scene of the collision, the next day with Place's wife behind the wheel.

Place told them they were on the way to the "cop shop" after hearing police were looking for his vehicle, having claimed he might have "struck a deer" or something.

Officers noted at the time that Place's "pupils were constricted, he appeared dirty and disheveled, and his cheeks were sunken."

They learned that Place has a history of drug use, and while he exhibited no clues of being under the influence during three field sobriety tests, during the fourth – "Romberg Test" – he overestimated the passage of 30 seconds, giving an answer of 44.6 seconds.

"The normal range is 25-35 seconds," the criminal complaint notes, with Place arrested and a blood draw taken at Grand Itasca Hospital after a search warrant was obtained, with the results still pending.

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Place's wife told police he was on his way home when the collision happened. She said that during an earlier conversation with her husband, he told her he'd fallen asleep while driving on the highway and "hit a mailbox or something."

Place has several convictions this year alone, including felony drug possession, felony drug sales, driving under the influence of drugs, texting and using an electronic device while driving, and has pending charges of violating a restricted license.

As well as criminal vehicular homicide, Place has been charged with four counts of criminal vehicular operation and one count of leaving the scene.

A GoFundMe page set up for the Klennert family has so far raised almost $12,000.

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