Christopher Keyes seemed to know only one speed when he got behind the wheel of a car.
Fast. So fast that he was ticketed at least seven times over a 30-month period dating to late 2019.
His third ticket in one six-month stretch last year came in Golden Valley, where he was clocked at 99 miles per hour in a 60 mph zone.
Despite all the tickets, fines and other convictions for not having a driver's license or insurance, prosecutors say the 44-year-old Keyes was driving at least 95 mph one May afternoon when he plowed into a car and killed 75-year-old driver Sandra Wetterlind at a Plymouth intersection.
Now Keyes is charged with criminal vehicular homicide in connection with the collision on May 6 at County Road 101 and N. 38th Avenue. A conviction could be what gets him off the road if a judge sentences him to prison.
"It just blows my mind how someone could be driving at three in the afternoon down County Road 101 at 100 miles per hour," said Mark Roe, Wetterlind's son-in-law.
"I've been on that road hundreds of times," Roe continued, "even making that same left turn that Sandy did. I envision someone driving that fast, and I can't wrap my mind around it."
Keyes was booked into jail Monday and released a few hours later after posting a $150,000 bond. He appeared in court Thursday, was ordered not to drive and has another hearing scheduled for Sept. 20. Keyes' lawyer, Scott Lewis, declined to comment.
Since 2019, a complaint filed last week noted, Keyes has been convicted of speeding in Minnesota seven times. That's on top of two other speeding convictions in the state several years earlier, according to court records.
On April 10, the state revoked Keyes' driver's license. Four weeks later, he hit Wetterlind's car. After replacing his damaged car and still unlicensed, Keyes was stopped on June 3 in Minnetonka and ticketed for driving 88 mph in a 60 mph zone along Interstate 394.
The state trooper's account of Keyes' driving on I-394 bears similarities to his movements leading to the crash that killed Wetterlind.
The vehicle topped 90 mph "before slowing in traffic, [then] attempted to move to the right to pass a car in the left lane but got caught by traffic," the trooper reported. "He then moved to the left lane in front of me and swerved back to the right."
According to the complaint:
Three motorists told police officers they saw Keyes' Lexus heading north on County Road 101 at roughly 100 mph while changing lanes and nearly hitting other vehicles moments before the crash that sent Wetterlind's car into the corner of a town home.
A State Patrol sergeant began the process of crash reconstruction by taking photographs and measurements of the scene. Three days later, a judge signed a search warrant allowing police to collect vital speed and braking data from Keyes' vehicle to feed the patrol's crash reconstruction report.
The sergeant analyzed the vehicle data and in late July calculated that Keyes was driving 95.7 mph fewer than five seconds before the collision.
The sergeant also calculated the car's speed at between 68 and 77 mph when it hit Wetterlind's southbound Hyundai as she turned left in front of him. The speed limit in the area is 45 mph.
The sergeant determined that the primary factor in the crash was Keyes' excessive speeding. Barely a week after the reconstruction was complete, Keyes was charged with the felony count.
"The driver of the Hyundai likely perceived the Lexus at a distance that would normally be safe to turn left," the sergeant is quoted in the complaint. "The driver did not realize the Lexus was traveling twice as fast as normal traffic in that area would be traveling."
More than 300 law enforcement agencies in Minnesota just wrapped up a monthlong speed limit enforcement campaign in July and issued nearly 19,000 speeding citations, according to the State Department of Public Safety (DPS).
For the first seven months of the year, State Patrol troopers have issued almost 53,000 speeding tickets, or about 9% more than in the same span last year, according to DPS data released this week.
Dozens of those citations last month were given to drivers hitting 100 mph or more, and the explanations from motorists varied from a failure to figure out cruise control to one motorist saying she thought the trooper was in a vehicle trying to race her.
Wetterlind's son-in-law said that households in his family have moved over the past 18 months to within a few miles of each in order to look over his wife's parents as the husband and wife of more than 60 years grew older together in Plymouth.
Loren Wetterlind, Sandra's husband, was moved recently from the couple's apartment in Plymouth to the adjoining memory care unit, Roe said.
"She visited our home that afternoon [before the crash] and had lunch with the grandkids and great-grandkids," Roe said. Wetterlind then left to visit her husband. "Roughly a half-hour later, my wife got a call from the Plymouth police."
About 2½ months later, 81-year-old Loren Wetterlind died.
"I know it sounds like a cliché, but they loved each other through thick and thin," said granddaughter Brittany Roe-Whalen. "It was that old-fashioned love that you would read in a fairy tale."
"If Grandma was here, he would still be here," she said. "He was absolutely heartbroken."
Roe-Whalen recently compared photos of her grandfather before and after her grandmother's death.
"You could see the sadness in his eyes," she said. "It's beautiful that they are together again, but it's sad."
Star Tribune staff writer Kim Hyatt contributed to this report.