A 21-year-old driver has been charged with a hit-and-run accident that injured multiple people last weekend.
The incident happened early Sunday morning in a parking lot near 104 Bunting Lane in Mankato. Officials said a man deliberately drove into a group of people, leaving six injured – two victims were hurt so badly they had to be airlifted to the hospital.
Authorities are now saying the hit-and-run started as a fight over drugs.
A criminal complaint from Blue Earth county describes a gruesome scene.
On the day of the crash, an officer on routine patrol saw a crowd of people gathering in a parking lot outside of "The Quads" apartment complex. He also saw a dark car fleeing the scene with sparks flying from the bumper.
The officer radioed for backup and pulled into the parking lot, where he initially found four people lying on the ground, including a man with a wound exposing his kneecap, a man with a nearly-severed leg, and another man with a compound fracture and blood flowing from an open wound.
Dozens of witnesses at the scene said that a man drove a Cadillac into a crowd of people in the parking lot before fleeing. Officers found damage to two vehicles in the parking lot, and two more people came forward to say they'd been hit by the car, bringing the victim total to six.
Meanwhile, deputies tracked down the Cadillac, arrested the driver – identified as Juan Carlos Lamas Jr – and removed two passengers.
Lamas had slurred speech and bloodshot eyes, the complaint says. While riding in the back of the squad car, he voluntarily told police he was trying to buy some marijuana at a party in the apartment building when a group of guys jumped him.
A fight broke out, Lamas ran out of the apartment and took off in his car. He admitted that he was intoxicated, the complaint says.
Lamas has been charged with 13 crimes in connection with the incident: two counts of felony first-degree assault, three counts of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon that inflicted substantial bodily harm, three counts of second-degree assault with a dangerous weapon, four felony counts of criminal vehicular operation and DWI.
According to court documents, Lamas said, "I had to hit those people so I would not get beat up," and "I'm sorry for trying to get away from you guys (because) I was scared."
A man who was a passenger in the car during the accident told police that people from the party who wanted to fight Lamas had surrounded his car, and that Lamas and the two passengers feared for their lives.
Lamas faces a maximum penalty of 107 years in prison and a $203,000 fine.