ROCHESTER, Minn. – A man who had to be rescued after a minivan crashed into a Rochester store is pleading not guilty to criminal vehicular operation.
Law enforcement says Justine Deane Kelley, 32 of Rochester, crashed into the Saigon Far East Store on 18th Avenue NW on February 16, setting off a fire that was fed by the building’s gas supply. When authorities arrived, two passengers had gotten out of the minivan, which was covered in flames. A Rochester police officer and an Olmsted County sheriff’s deputy saw Kelley lying in the backseat area and entered the burning vehicle to save him.
According to court documents, there was a strong smell of alcohol on Kelley’s breath, his eyes were bloodshot and watery, and his speech of slurred. Law enforcement says a blood test showed Kelley had a blood alcohol level of .241, roughly three times the legal limit. One of the passengers told investigators that Kelley had been driving at 80 miles an hour before smashing the minivan into the store.
Authorities say one passenger suffered broken ribs, loose teeth, and two cuts to the lower lip in the crash while the other passenger suffered broken bones and abrasions on the face and lower legs. The Rochester Fire Department said the minivan was a total loss and the Saigon Far East store sustained more than $200,000 in damage.
Kelley pleaded not guilty Thursday to four counts of criminal vehicular operations. His trial is set to start on March 2, 2020.