Charges: 2 MN teens die in crash when drunk driver hit them head on


Two teenagers from Watkins, Minnesota, were killed in a head-on car crash Tuesday night, and the driver of the other vehicle has been charged with drunk driving and criminal vehicular homicide.

The Minnesota State Patrol says the accident occurred about 11:30 p.m. Tuesday on Minnesota Highway 24 at 277th Street, north of Litchfield.

A pickup truck driven by Benjamin Tate, 27, of Paynesville, crossed the center line and hit another vehicle that was carrying three teenagers.

The driver of the car, 19-year-old Travis Monson, and one of his passengers, 16-year-old Zachary Rohrbeck, were both killed.

Tate and the other passenger, Kathleen Prestidge, 16, of Montrose, were injured and taken to a nearby hospital. Their injuries were believed to be non-life threatening.

The small town of Watkins, which is about 25 miles southwest of St. Cloud, is in shock over the loss of the two young men, KSTP reports.

That's especially true among students and staff at Eden Valley-Watkins High School, where Rohrbeck was about to start a new school year. Monson was a graduate of the school.

Principal Bruce Kiehn said staff at the school were in "total shock."

"This is an extended family, because everyone knows each other," he said, according to KSTP. He said a crisis team is in place to help students deal with their grief. 

Tate was charged Wednesday with two counts of criminal vehicular homicide, one count of vehicular criminal operation and one count of second-degree DWI, KSTP says.

He is being held in the Meeker County Jail, and will make his first court appearance Thursday morning.

According to the Star Tribune, Tate has several driving violations on his record, including speeding and driving with a revoked license. He also has several convictions for underage liquor offenses.

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