At 1:17 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 1, the Minnesota State Patrol responded to a vehicle crash involving a pedestrian on Highway 65 in northeast Itasca Township, approximately 15 miles north of Nashwauk. 

According to the State Patrol’s report, a 16-year-old female pedestrian was walking southbound on Highway 65 on the right shoulder and was pushing a stroller with a two-year-old male when a southbound pickup truck crossed onto the shoulder, striking the pedestrian and the stroller from behind. 

The driver of the truck fled the scene and was later located near the city of Nashwauk. According to the criminal complaint, at approximately 2:30 p.m., the State Patrol learned from a Minnesota Power helicopter crew working on the utilities in the area that they spotted a vehicle matching the description of the suspect vehicle, a red Dodge pickup with damage to the passenger side mirror and headlight. State troopers and deputies with the Itasca County Sheriff’s Office stopped the suspected driver and arrested 38-year-old Jake Michael Place, of Nashwauk. Details of the complaint further state that Place admitted to being involved in a crash prior to being stopped. He said he was driving southbound on Highway 65 when he “struck a deer or something.” 

He said that he was alone in the truck the entire time. Place was booked into Itasca County Jail on suspicion of criminal vehicular homicide, hit and run, criminal vehicular operation-great bodily harm and driving under the influence of a controlled substance. 

Two-year-old, Logan Klennert, of Nashwauk, was pronounced dead at the scene. His babysitter, Alexia Carroll, of Nashwauk, was transported to a Duluth hospital with non-life threatening, but significant injuries. 

According to Itasca County Attorney Matti Adam, Place was charged with two felony counts of criminal vehicular homicide, four felony counts of criminal vehicular operation and one gross misdemeanor count of failing to stop for collision. Place made his first appearance in district court on Friday. Prosecutors asked the court to set bail at $400,000 without conditions and $200,000 with conditions based on the seriousness of the offense and because Place had fled the scene of the crash. The court agreed and set the next hearing for Aug. 12, at 9 a.m. 

A review of records shows that Place has an extensive record including three counts of felony controlled substance possession, second degree sale of controlled substance, driving while under the influence misdemeanor, texting and use of electronic device while driving and a seatbelt violation. 

“The Minnesota State Patrol would like to extend our condolences to the family of two-year-old Logan Klennert who died as the result of a fatal crash on Thursday,” stated Sgt. Neil Dickenson, Minnesota State Patrol Public Information Officer NE Region. “We would like to thank the helicopter pilots and employees from Wilson Construction Helicopter Service who were in the area and helped locate the suspect. The pilot spotted the pickup truck, called law enforcement and followed the driver until he could be arrested.”

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