71-year-old charged in Princeton man’s death

A 71-year-old Hibbing driver was under the influence of alcohol when he struck and killed a Princeton man September 29 at Dora Lake in Itasca County.

Lyle Elmer White has been charged in Itasca County District Court with two counts of vehicular homicide for causing the September 29 death of Eugene Paul Zeroth, 78, of Princeton.

A criminal complaint alleges that White had an alcohol concentration of .09 when he struck Zeroth on his Rascal scooter, a vehicle Zeroth was known for riding on the streets of Princeton. Itasca County Attorney John Muhar filed the criminal complaint Monday, Nov. 19. White’s bond was set at $25,000 two days later on Wednesday, Nov. 21, during his first court appearance.

The Itasca County Sheriff’s Department reported in September that Zeroth was operating a Rascal scooter at about 12:15 p.m. on September 29 when he came off the Dora Lake access road into the traffic lane of County Road 29 and collided with a northbound vehicle driven by White. When deputies, Bigfork ambulance, Squaw Lake First Responders and Squaw Lake Fire Department arrived at the crash Zeroth was already dead at the scene.

Authorities originally said that alcohol or speed were not factors in the crash, but when urine samples from White returned, they revealed he had an alcohol concentration of .09, according to the criminal complaint.

According to details of a Minnesota State Patrol crash reconstruction detailed in the criminal complaint, the crash resulted because Zeroth failed to yield the right of way on the highway and made a u-turn directly into the path of White’s oncoming vehicle. But White was traveling at an excessive speed prior to the crash, the reconstruction revealed.

An air bag module showed that White was driving 66 mph in the 45 mph zone at the time of the crash. The trooper who performed the crash reconstruction noted that White was speeding for at least a fifth of a mile prior to the crash and had plenty of time to reduce his speed, the complaint states. The trooper noted that alcohol impairment was also a major contributor to the crash.

“White’s perception and reaction times would have been improved had he not been impaired by alcohol. Had White been sober and traveling the speed limit, there is a good chance that this crash would not have occurred,” the report states.