Crash claims life of WG man

By Per Peterson

A Walnut Grove man was killed in an automobile crash reported at 8:12 p.m. on April 29 in Fairview Township, a few miles north of Marshall.

According to the Minnesota State Patrol, a 2021 Toyota Tundra driven by 43-year-old Kaw La of Marshall and heading northbound on Hwy. 23 collided with a southbound 2014 Buick Enclave driven by Michael Lemburg of Walnut Grove near 300th St.

Lemburg, 29, died at the scene, according to the criminal complaint. A passenger in his vehicle, Joshua Tolley, 32, of Walnut Grove, was airlifted to McKennan Hospital in Sioux Falls, as was Nay Moo, 30, a passenger in the Toyota.

According to the criminal complaint, Tolley told the responding officer that the Toyota crossed the center line and crashed into the Buick head-on, and that there was no time to react.

It was later discovered that Tolley had sustained a fractured femur in both legs, a fractured kneecap and a fractured wrist, as well as bruising on his lungs, and several cuts to his face that required stitches to close, according to the complaint. Moo also sustained substantial injuries.

La was taken to the hospital in Marshall with non-life threatening injuries. According to the State Patrol, alcohol played a factor in the crash, and La was charged in Lyon County District Court on May 2 with criminal vehicular homicide; two counts of criminal vehicular operation, bodily harm — all felonies — and open bottle, a misdemeanor.

When asked after the incident if he had consumed alcohol that day, La told the officer that he “drank a little beer earlier,” the complaint alleges. The officer located two unopened bottles of beer and one empty bottle, along with an open bottle of brandy, the complaint said; there was also spilled liquor on the vehicle floor around the bottles.

A Breathalyzer test which La agreed to take indicated that he had a .150 blood alcohol level.

His next court appearance is set for May 17.

The Lyon County Sheriff’s Office, Marshall Fire/Rescue and North Ambulance responded to the scene.