Mora man charged in drunk driving death

A 29-year-old Mora man has been charged with criminal vehicular homicide and driving while intoxicated following his alleged role in the death of a 47-year-old McGrath man.

A 29-year-old Mora man has been charged with criminal vehicular homicide and driving while intoxicated following his alleged role in the death of a 47-year-old McGrath man.

Formal charges against Peter Petrovich Sarkisyan were filed Monday in Aitkin County District Court. Charges include two felony counts of criminal vehicular homicide, two misdemeanor fourth-degree DWI charges, misdemeanor driving after revocation and misdemeanor no proof of insurance. The summons was signed by Judge David Ten Eyck.

According to the criminal complaint, the crash was reported to the Minnesota State Patrol at 9:35 p.m. Jan. 24 and occurred at the intersection of highways 18 and 65 in Williams Township, Aitkin County. Anthony Sundholm of McGrath was driving a Ford Fiesta northbound on Highway 65. Sarkisyan was driving west on Highway 18 in a Volkswagen Jetta when he failed to stop at a stop sign and struck Sundholm's vehicle broadside. The two vehicles came to rest in the ditch on the northwest corner of the intersection.

Sundholm died at the scene. The airbags in Sundholm's vehicle deployed and he was wearing his lap belt, but the shoulder harness was tucked behind his back. The Star Tribune reported Sundholm was the emergency room manager at Riverwood Healthcare Center in Aitkin and had served as a helicopter flight nurse and for four years in the Army during the Gulf War.

Sarkisyan was transported to FirstLight Health System in Mora with serious facial injuries and was then transferred to North Memorial Medical Center in Robbinsdale. A passenger in Sarkisyan's vehicle, 27-year-old Seth Millner of Roseville, suffered non-life threatening injuries.


At the scene, Lance Turcotte, Minnesota state trooper, reported observing an open beer can on the drive side floor and another open can in the driver door cubby inside Sarkisyan's vehicle.

Turcotte spoke with Sarkisyan's wife, who told the trooper she was following Sarkisyan and her brother, Millner, on their way home from Finlayson. She reported seeing the crash but stated she was too far away to know what had happened. She said Sarkisyan should have been turning right onto Highway 65 but was unsure if she'd witnessed brake lights on his vehicle prior to the crash.

Turcotte approached Millner and reported smelling a very strong odor of alcohol on his breath. Millner admitted he and Sarkisyan had been drinking.

At around 10:30 p.m., James Wikelius, Minnesota state trooper, spoke with Sarkisyan in the emergency room in Mora. Sarkisyan said he did not remember driving or being involved in a crash. He said he had been fishing on Pine Lake in Finlayson and admitted he had been drinking. Wikelius reported smelling a strong alcohol odor while speaking with Sarkisyan and observed his eyes were red, watery and bloodshot and his speech was slurred.

Wikelius performed a breathalyzer test on Sarkisyan with a result of .214, nearly three times the legal blood alcohol content limit. Blood drawn from Sarkisyan at 11:20 p.m. was tested by the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and returned a result of .184.

According to the records, Sarkisyan's driver's license was revoked on May 17, 2010, and has not been reinstated.

Sarkisyan's first appearance in court is set for 1:30 p.m. March 16.

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