Minnetonka police accuse a man with four drunken driving convictions of using drugs and then driving a tree trimming truck with a wood chipper, according to court documents filed last week.
The case began when Plymouth police went to the Best Western-Kelly Inn at 8:40 a.m. March after the hotel manager reported that a man was driving away from the hotel who appeared to be on narcotics, Minnetonka Police Officer Timothy Olson wrote in the charging documents. The manager said the driver was in a “Sky View” tree trimming truck that was pulling a wood chipper and worried that he might kill someone.
A Minnetonka officer found the suspicious truck and chipper six minutes later at Plymouth Road and Cartway Lane in Minnetonka, according to the court documents. She saw the vehicle swerve off the road, hit a snow bank on the shoulder and then get back on the road. It also changed lanes without signaling, and the brake light on the chipper wasn’t working.
The officer stopped the truck and found that the driver was 31-year-old Jerry Alan Cochran, of Little Falls. His eyes were puffy, bloodshot and glassy. His speech was slurred and slow. And he failed field sobriety tests. However, a preliminary breath tests showed no presence of alcohol.
A state trooper trained as a drug recognition evaluator determined that Cochran was on drugs. A urine sample analyzed by the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension showed the presence of oxycodone, oxymorphone, amphetamine and methamphetamine.
Cochran’s license was cancelled at the time of his arrest, and he had four drunken driving convictions within 10 years—with convictions in February 2006, May 2012, November 2012 (gross misrefusal to test) and January 2013 (gross misdemeanor refusal to test).
He’s been charged with two counts of first-degree driving while impaired. Each count is a felony with a sentence of three to seven years in prison and/or a $4,200 to $14,000 fine plus a conditional release term.
He also faces a gross misdemeanor charge of driving with a cancelled license—which carries a maximum penalty of one year in jail and a $3,000 fine.