Driver charged in fatal New Ulm crash

The driver involved in a crash that left a woman dead in New Ulm last week is accused of drunk driving.

John Roy DeLeo, 53, of Lake Crystal, was charged in Brown County Court Friday with felony criminal vehicular operation and misdemeanor DWI.

Sharon Portner, 82, of New Ulm, was killed in the crash on New Ulm’s south side, near Kwik Trip.  A criminal complaint says Portner’s SUV was northbound on Broadway, attempting to turn left onto 15th South Street when it was t-boned by DeLeo’s BMW.

Witnesses told police DeLeo was going about 50 to 60 mph in the 40 mph zone when he hit Portner’s vehicle.

Police say DeLeo smelled of alcohol and showed signs of intoxication during field sobriety tests.  DeLeo initially denied drinking and refused a preliminary breath test, according to the complaint.  Police say he eventually admitted to having two drinks.  He was arrested and transported to the New Ulm Medical Center for a blood sample.

The criminal complaint says DeLeo had traveled to New Ulm prior to the crash to pick up ribs at Turner Halle.  An employee told investigators DeLeo had struggled to place his order over the phone.  The employee further said that DeLeo had slow moves and an “odd way of speaking,” when he picked up his food.

DeLeo allegedly told the employee he couldn’t believe he had made it to the restaurant in ten minutes, and later stated: “I’m going to hit 160 on the way home.”

DeLeo has three previous DWI charges dating back to 1990 and 2001 in Blue Earth and Brown counties.

District Court Judge Robert Docherty set DeLeo’s bail at $75,000 with no conditions or $10,000 with conditions, which include avoiding alcohol and drug use, random testing, and making all future court appearances.

DeLeo is no longer listed on the Brown County Jail Roster.

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