A 20-year-old man had been drinking before he ran over and killed an 85-year-old woman walking to church on a Sunday morning earlier this year in Winona, Minn., according to charges filed this week.
Robert J. Tofstad, of Minnesota City, Minn., was charged Monday in Winona County District Court with criminal vehicular homicide and other charges in the death of Ruth D. Brendel of Winona.
A preliminary breath test measured Tofstad's blood-alcohol content at 0.014 percent, according to prosecutors. Tofstad was 19 at the time and not legally allowed to drink.
Tofstad admitted to having had a few drinks the night before, according to the criminal complaint.
A search of his vehicle turned up four unopened beers in a backpack and a "piece of suspect marijuana debris," the complaint said. Also recovered on the ground near the crash scene was a tote bag holding a smashed liquor bottle and a glass jar with what appeared to be two small baggies of marijuana and a marijuana pipe, the charges read.
Brendel was a lieutenant in the Navy Medical Services Corps in the mid-1950s and later was an occupational therapist for handicapped children.
According to the criminal complaint:
Brendel was struck shortly before 8 a.m. on Feb. 19 after walking out from between vehicles in the middle of East Broadway along Sinclair Park on her way to St. Martin's Lutheran Church. Brendel was sent flying and was knocked out of her shoes.
Tofstad was driving into bright sun with a frosted-over windshield and did not see Brendel crossing from the right. Witnesses told police they saw Tofstad driving with his head out the window.
Tofstad is also charged with careless driving and underage drinking and driving. He's scheduled to appear in court on Oct. 4.
Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482