A Superior man who served prison time for a drunken crash that killed a Duluth woman and her grandson in 2012 has admitted to once again driving while impaired.
Hawk Patrick Edwards, 28, pleaded guilty Friday to a felony count of first-degree DWI at a hearing in State District Court in Duluth. The charges were the result of a January arrest in which Edwards was stopped for speeding and discovered to be driving with a blood-alcohol concentration at nearly twice the legal limit.
Edwards previously received an eight-year sentence for the January 2012 crash that killed 65-year-old Paula Bergren and seriously wounded 13-year-old Edward Everett Bergren, who was still recovering when he died from surgery-related complications nearly a year later.
Edwards faces a presumptive return to prison, with the charge carrying a statutory maximum of seven years, though defense attorney Bill Thompson told the court he will argue for a departure from sentencing guidelines.
A second count of the same offense will be dismissed, but St. Louis County prosecutor Michael Hagley also indicated there is no agreement as to Edwards' sentence, which will be left up to Judge Theresa Neo on Oct. 30.
The new arrest came on Jan. 5, when Duluth police officer Dana Letica saw Edwards' vehicle enter Interstate 35 from the Blatnik Bridge at a speed of approximately 55 mph. The car continued to the Mesaba Avenue exit, where Letica executed a traffic stop, according to a criminal complaint.
Letica approached the car and reported "an odor of an alcoholic beverage emanating from the vehicle." Edwards reportedly stated he had consumed two 16-ounce Miller Lite beers and was on his way to downtown Duluth to pick someone up.
Officer Ron Tinsley, who was working a Toward Zero Deaths enforcement shift, responded and reported that Edwards had "bloodshot watery eyes, slightly slurred speech and slow motor movements."
According to the complaint, Tinsley had Edwards exit the vehicle and perform field-sobriety tests, during which Edwards showed signs of impairment. A preliminary breath test allegedly produced a 0.149 blood-alcohol concentration, in excess of the legal limit for driving of 0.08. Edwards was then taken to the Duluth Police Department, where another test registered a 0.13 reading, according to the complaint.
Edwards, appearing via Zoom from Thompson's law office for Friday's hearing, admitted to the facts alleged in the complaint, but said he had difficulty remembering some of the details.
"I was disoriented because I was kind of scared," he testified.
Edwards earlier went to prison after pleading guilty to felony charges of criminal vehicular homicide and criminal vehicular operation. Then 19, he was found to have a 0.11 blood-alcohol level when his pickup truck crossed the center line of Woodland Avenue, striking an oncoming car.
Bergren was killed almost instantly while Everett, a 13-year-old who went by his middle name, made a gradual recovery before dying in January 2013.
Edwards was released from prison in May 2017 and discharged from supervision in September 2018, having completed the statutory requirements of the sentence, according to the Minnesota Department of Corrections.
The Bergren family and supporters filled a Duluth courtroom for Edwards' arraignment on the new charges in January. They said the case ripped open old wounds, particularly around the anniversaries of the 2012 crash and Everett's death, which occurred seven years to the day before Edwards' latest arrest.
"I kind of gave the kid a break," Shelly Nicholson, the daughter and aunt of the victims, told the News Tribune at the time. "I thought he just made a mistake. I hate to see that he didn't learn much from it, but hopefully nobody got hurt in his latest arrest. It's really just bringing it all back up again."