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Charges: Man was drunk when he crashed into Liberty's Restaurant in Red Wing

The historic building is condemned due to structural damage, police say.

The driver accused of speeding into a historic Red Wing building on Sept. 2, causing it to partially collapse, has been charged with a DWI and other offenses. 

Donovan Brady Plank, 28, of Red Wing, is charged with gross misdemeanor DWI, reckless driving, failure to obey a traffic control device and trespassing in connection to the crash the damaged Liberty's Restaurant at 303 3rd St. 

The crash led to the evacuation of Liberty's and the second-floor apartments above the restaurant, but no one was injured, the Red Wing Police Department said

The historic building was condemned due to structural damage, police said, and a structural engineer will analyze the building to determine if it can be repaired, rehabilitated or if it needs to be demolished. Meanwhile, the Red Cross is assisting four of the five residents who live above Liberty's. 

“Liberty’s Restaurant is a Red Wing landmark. The City of Red Wing will do all it can to ensure that this legacy restaurant will be back in business as soon as possible," Red Wing Mayor Sean Dowse said in a statement. 

The nonprofit Red Wing Downtown Main Street has set up a fundraiser to help the Noreen family who has owned Liberty's since 1975, as well as employees and residents. 

The charges

According to the criminal complaint, a Red Wing police officer responded to 700 block of 21st Street around 9:43 p.m. on Sept. 2 after a woman called to have police remove an unwanted person. 

The complainant said Plank, her children's father, drove drunk to her house and was knocking on her doors and windows, refusing to leave, charges say. She also reported he had disconnected the electricity to her home.

Plank eventually fled from her home, the complainant said, and while responding to the scene, the officer saw Plank's vehicle near the intersection of Bush Street and 10th Street, at which point Plank flashed his high beams at the officer, charges say. 

The officer turned around to follow Plank's vehicle, noting he was driving at an "extremely high rate of speed," approximately 60-70 mph in a 30-mph zone.

The officer followed Plank and noted on at least two occasions Plank's vehicle ran stop signs. The officer also saw Plank's vehicle nearly collide with another vehicle.

When the officer got in view of Plum Street and West 3rd Street, he saw a "large cloud of debris" and noted Plank's vehicle had crashed into the northeast corner of Liberty's Restaurant, charges state. The officer noted extensive damage to the exterior of the building and a "large amount" of bricks and debris resting on top of Plank's vehicle. Meanwhile, the officer saw Plank crawling out of the drivers-side window. 

The officer got out of his squad car and told Plank he was under arrest. He was taken into custody. 

The officer went into Liberty's Restaurant and confirmed no one was injured and then spoke with Plank, who smelled "overwhelmingly" of alcohol, the complaint says. The officer noted his eyes were bloodshot and watery and he appeared disoriented and confused regarding what had happened, added that he was emotional at times and displayed "general drunk-like behavior." 

During their conversations that night, Plank asked about the amount of damage to the building and if anyone was injured. He admitted he was on his way home from the complainants house before the crash and he had been drinking beer and mixed drinks earlier in the day at two local bars, but didn't say how many drinks he had. 

Plank also admitted to flashing his high beams at the officer but denied seeing and hearing the officer's emergency lights and siren, according to the complaint.

A blood test to determine Plank's blood-alcohol content was conducted just after midnight on Sept. 3, but the results were not included in the criminal complaint. 

Plank's driving record shows his license was revoked in September 2013 for driving while impaired offense, charges note.

Note: Details provided in this story are based on the police's latest version of events, and may be subject to change.

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