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Charges: Fatal I-35W crash driver was high, speeding and on phone

The crash killed the driver's 20-year-old girlfriend.

After a lengthy investigation, charges have now been filed against the driver in a fatal crash on I-35W that left his girlfriend dead.

James Robert Lapsley, 21, of Prior Lake, has been charged with two counts of criminal vehicular homicide following the incident on the interstate in Burnsville on May 26, 2018.

Lapsley and his girlfriend, Kayli Thompson, 19, were returning home after going fishing. A witness traveling south on I-35W noticed their Ford Fusion was being driven erratically, with the driver not maintaining their lane, and almost hitting the median barrier twice.

A short time later, the Fusion veered off the road and hit a sound barrier wall to the right of I-35W, sustaining extensive damage.

Lapsley only suffered a cut on his knee and scrapes on his arms and legs, but Thompson suffered fatal injuries and died at the scene, despite wearing her seat belt.

Officers who spoke with Lapsley after the crash observed he had bloodshot, glassy eyes and slurred speech. A blood sample analysis turned up traces of THC – an active ingredient in cannabis.

Furthermore, Lapsley told police that they were heading back to Thompson's house at the time of the crash, but had been passing a phone back and forth between them as they checked directions.

He estimated he was traveling at 55 mph before hitting the sound wall, but data obtained from the Fusion and a review of traffic cameras concluded he was driving at 83 mph when the car hit the wall, and had been traveling 91 mph about a mile north of the crash site.

In announcing the charges, Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom said: "This appears to be another tragic example of impaired driving that has claimed a life on our roads."

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