Little Canada man pleads guilty to crash that injured 5

Matthew Damman admitted to using drugs before driving into light pole in May

On Monday, Nov. 24, a Little Canada man pleaded guilty to two felony counts of criminal vehicular operation and one felony count of fleeing a police officer.

According to the charges, Matthew Damman, 32, drove into a light pole in St. Paul in May, sending it through the window of a nearby bar, injuring five people.

Damman was arrested the evening of May 2, after a state patrol trooper received a call regarding an “erratic” motorist in a minivan heading south on U.S. Hwy. 61. The caller said the minivan was speeding, crossing the center line and nearly hit a retaining wall.

The trooper located the minivan approaching downtown St. Paul on Interstate 94 near Mounds Boulevard, and attempted to pull the motorist over. The driver did not respond to the trooper’s lights and sirens, and continued to “weave” down the Sixth Street exit. Eventually, the trooper said, the minivan crashed into a light pole on the east side of The Bulldog Restaurant.

Damman was found in the front seat of the car, slumped over and unresponsive. He slowly awoke and appeared groggy and lethargic, and the trooper noticed the smell of alcohol on him. When asked why he fled from the trooper, Damman reportedly told him his blood sugar was low, which was verified with a blood test.

A preliminary breath test showed Damman had a blood alcohol concentration of .02, below the legal limit of .08.

According to the complaint, Damman told the trooper he had consumed one beer earlier in the evening. He also admitted to having smoked marijuana about five hours before the crash. The trooper found a glass pipe and a small amount of marijuana in the van.

Five restaurant patrons, ages 21 to 29, who were reportedly sitting close to the window the light pole smashed through, were treated for a variety of injuries including cuts and a concussion.

Damman reportedly told the judge he had consumed alcohol, marijuana and cocaine before the incident. Damman has two prior DWI convictions on his record. He is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 26.

— Johanna Holub

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