A driver from Oronoco, Minn., who killed a woman in a 2016 distracted driving crash has been ordered to visit the grave of the woman as part of her sentence.
Lori J. Hoefs, 57, was sentenced Friday in Dakota County in connection with the collision in Hampton Township that killed 78-year-old Brenda K. Travis of Rochester, Minn., and seriously injured her brother, Glen Travis.
Along with making two visits to the Bear Creek Lutheran Church cemetery northeast of Grand Meadow, Minn., where Travis was buried, Hoefs was sentenced by Judge Jerome Abrams to six months in jail and put on probation for two years. If she qualifies, Hoefs can serve part of that time on work release.
She also must perform 30 hours of community service, where she is required to speak about distracted driving, and she must attend a driving improvement clinic and pay $1,429 in fines and fees.
Hoefs was charged in June 2018 with felony counts of criminal vehicular homicide and criminal vehicular operation. Her plea agreement called for those charges, which likely would have resulted in prison time if she were convicted, to be dismissed in exchange for admitting to the lower-level counts.
Glen Travis, who suffered rib fractures and a broken pelvis, told the Star Tribune last fall that terms of the plea deal were satisfactory to the family. He said he didn't want the sentence to cost Hoefs her license as a registered nurse, which she has held for more than 35 years and continues to hold.
He did add, however, "We do wonder why she didn't assist" his sister at the crash scene, "but I guess she was in total shock."
Hoefs told authorities immediately after the crash that she had the phone on speakerphone but was holding it while talking to a friend as she drove west on County Road 88 into the intersection at Hwy. 56, the criminal complaint said.
She passed a sign warning her of a stop sign ahead at the intersection and drove over pavement painted with the words "STOP AHEAD," the complaint added. Her SUV struck the passenger side of the Travises' car.
Brenda Travis received an education degree from St. Olaf College in Northfield and a master's degree from the University of Minnesota before embarking on a teaching career that lasted decades and covered several continents.
After teaching high school for two years in Morgan, Minn., Travis taught business for 32 years through the Department of Defense Overseas Dependent Schools. In that role, she worked in Germany, Turkey, Morocco, Japan and the Philippines.