Nightmare, habitual user charged in fatal Highway 55 crash

Individual charged has extensive criminal history dating back to at least 2003

An individual with a rap sheet too long and exhaustive to comb through in one evening was charged with criminal vehicular operation plus at least two other felonies in the Highway 55 crash that has just claimed the life of a young mother from Belgrade. The individual charged was on an expired driver's license, according to the Minnesota State Patrol report. After an initial review of his record, the rap sheet dates back over 20 years.

At 6:46 a.m. on Monday, January 22, 2024, a 911 emergency call was placed following a collision between a 2000 GMC Envoy SUV driven by Chad J. Seitz of Coon Rapids and a 2012 Honda Fit automobile, which was driven by Cassie Mithaugen, age 41 of Belgrade. Each vehicle landed in the opposite side of Highway 55. The state patrol's white chalk marks on Highway 55 suggest the impact took place in the westbound lane.

Mithaugen, a Belgrade-Brooten-Elrosa Class of 2001 graduate who was driving her step-daughter to day care in Brooten at the time of the crash, was killed. The young girl was transported to Children's Hospital in the Twin Cities with non-life threatening injuries, according to the state patrol.

The crash occurred between the east and west Skunk Creeks that are located between Belgrade and Brooten; it was also near Highway 55 mile marker 90. As the emergency response took place to the crash, Highway 55 traffic was detoured onto Crow Lake Township roads until approximately 11 a.m.

Seitz, age 52 of Coon Rapids, was later booked in the Stearns County jail at 8:20 a.m. with at least three felonies being charged: criminal vehicular operation involving a death while driving impaired (controlled substance) plus two separate counts of possession of controlled substances. These latter counts were existing Stearns County warrants that Seitz was already wanted on. The charging documents also included a note on his expired driver's license. A blood test on what was in his system at the time of the accident is pending.

Seitz, who has all the markings of a habitual user and pusher, was previously arrested on drug-related charges in 2021 and 2022. Prior to that, he has at least eight other marks on his record involving burglary, assault and shoplifting. His history of endangerment to the public dates back to at least 2006.

One example: in 2021, Seitz was arrested in Avon with possession of 30 grams of methamphetamine. Documents show that a child was in the car at the time he was arrested that day.

Update: Seitz's first arrest in Stearns County appears to have been on December 19, 2003. In that arrest, which took place in Sauk Centre, he was charged with providing false information to a peace officer, shoplifting and possession of drug paraphernalia.

On February 27, 2012, Seitz was arrested by a Stearns County deputy for credit card fraud.

The list continues with subsequent, multiple arrests in 2013, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021 and 2022 for a variety of charges.

The Bonanza Valley Voice will continue digging up further history on Seitz's criminal record. At this point, it is unclear what this Coon Rapids man was doing while eastbound through our Bonanza Valley area on Highway 55 on the morning of January 22 when his SUV struck Cassie Mithaugen's Honda.

According to law enforcement, the results of the blood test could take "up to a month" or more to be processed with the state.

Disclosure: Mithaugen's mom is Kay Halvorson, a dear friend to the publisher's family. She was the owner of Greater Visions Photography studio, which was a staple of main street in Belgrade through the 1990s and 2000s. Their family needs all our prayers and support at this truly horrific time.


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