A motorist was charged Tuesday with hitting an Amish buggy in southern Minnesota while drunk, killing one of three brothers in the horse-drawn vehicle and then fleeing from the wreckage.
Connor L. Keene, 24, of Canton, Minn., was charged in Fillmore County District Court with four counts of criminal vehicular homicide in connection with the crash Friday that killed William E. Stutzman, 21, of rural Harmony, Minn.
A preliminary breath test administered to Keene at the jail a few hours after the crash measured his blood alcohol content at 0.184 percent, more than twice the legal limit for driving in Minnesota.
Keene was released from jail Tuesday and has a Sept. 24 court appearance. A message was left with his attorney seeking a response to the allegations.
Stutzman died at a hospital in La Crosse. His teenage brothers, John and Emery Stutzman, were injured. Authorities have yet to reveal their conditions.
According to the criminal complaint:
A sheriff’s deputy was called to the scene about 3:45 p.m. on County Road 21 in Amherst Township, north of Henrytown, and saw several people in the ditch.
A woman identifying herself as a nurse was tending to William Stutzman, who had a head injury and was “quietly and slowly speaking in German,” the charges read.
Emery Stutzman told the deputy that their buggy was as far over to the right on the road as possible with John Stutzman at the reins, when Keene’s car sideswiped them and sent their startled horse running. The brothers were pitched to the ground along the way.
Keene’s unoccupied car was found nearby along the edge of a cornfield on County Road 16. A hammer was on the hood, and the windshield was busted. Gone were the license plates and the plate with the vehicle identification number behind the windshield.
Law enforcement soon caught up with Keene and another person with him, wife Whitney Keene, hiding nearby in the woods on a farm.
Connor Keene smelled of alcohol, and his eyes were bloodshot and glassy. He refused to speak with officers.
A witness said Connor Keene called Whitney Keene and pleaded with the two to meet him at his car on the farm property owned by Whitney Keene’s mother. Connor Keene told them the buggy was in the middle of the road “and there was nothing he could do” to avoid hitting it, the charges continued.
Court records show that Keene has three convictions for speeding in Minnesota and another for being a minor in possession of alcohol.