Austin PD raising awareness about drunk driving after seven DUI arrests over the weekend

Published: May. 2, 2022 at 4:52 PM CDT
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AUSTIN, Minn. (KTTC) – Over a 29 hour period, the Austin Police Department (APD) handled seven DUI arrests over the weekend, including one serious crash.

According to APD, an officer attempted to stop a white Chevy Silverado for several traffic violations Sunday at approximately 3:20 a.m. The driver did not stop for the officer’s lights and sirens and accelerated to above 70 miles per hour in a 30 miles per hour speed zone.

The officer called off the attempt to stop the truck due to the suspect’s erratic driving and speed. Despite the officer turning off the lights, the suspect continued to flee at a high speed.

The driver then lost control of the truck as it entered the 1600 block of West Oakland Ave. and appeared to be headed into the south ditch toward Banfield Elementary School. The driver then overcorrected and went into the north ditch striking a tree.

APD said the impact of the truck sheared most of the rear off the truck and the rest of the truck ended up on the parallel frontage road facing the opposite direction it had been traveling. The truck then erupted in flames.

The side curtain airbags had deployed and officers were not able to see anyone inside at that point. Officers looked around the area believing the driver may have been ejected. When flames subsided enough for officers to approach the vehicle, they were able to see the driver facedown under the passenger side dashboard.

Officers were unable to open the driver’s door due to damage from the crash but were able to remove him from the still burning vehicle through the passenger side door.

Once at a safe distance they began medical care. Another arriving officer knocked down the remaining flames with a fire-extinguisher.

Austin Fire and Mayo Ambulance arrived to assist and the driver was transported to the Mayo Clinic in Austin. A Minnesota State Patrol Crash reconstructionist also responded to the scene.

The driver was the sole occupant of the truck.

Authorities said due to indications that the driver may have been impaired by alcohol, a search warrant was applied for and a blood draw taken.

While following up on the case Monday morning, officers made contact with the driver identified as 23-year-old Melchor Barnabas who was at home after he had been released from medical care. Barnabas was arrested at that time and taken to the Mower County Jail where the case will be reviewed by the Mower County Attorney’s Office for charging purposes.

This was one of seven suspected driving under the influence cases APD handled over the weekend from 11 p.m. on Friday, April 29 to 3:20 a.m. Sunday, May 1.

APD released images from the crash in hopes to raise awareness of the dangers of drinking and driving.

“We would like to stress to the public how dangerous speeding and driving under the influence can be. Our driver was very fortunate that he was not killed or more seriously injured.”

Austin Police Department

The photos show how far away the truck itself ended from the tree it hit and the truck bed.

Truck full scene
Truck full scene(Austin Police Department)
Driver's side of truck
Driver's side of truck(Austin Police Department)

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