Minn. man gets over 5 years for drunken fatalities

  • Updated: August 10, 2013 - 7:35 PM

WILLMAR, Minn. — A man convicted of killing three Minnesota women in a drunken collision last year has been sentenced to more than five years in prison.

Paul Anthony Wickenhauser, 22, of Cokato, expressed regret to family members of the victims Friday, telling them he knew he could never apologize enough, the West Central Tribune reported (http://bit.ly/13r8QX4).

"I hope you will be able to find it in your hearts to forgive me," he said, his voice cracking with emotion.

The victims represented three generations: 68-year-old Martha Stoffers of Atwater; her 40-year-old daughter-in-law, Michelle Hoffman; and Hoffman's 8-year-old daughter, Julia. They were killed almost a year ago in a fiery collision in Kandiyohi County when Wickenhauser's vehicle slammed head-on into their van.

During a plea hearing last month, Wickenhauser acknowledged drinking five to six beers after work and then going home for an hour before heading to a restaurant. On the way Wickenhauser crashed into the victims' van.

His blood alcohol level was 0.09 percent, just over the legal limit for driving.

Several of the victims' relatives and witnesses who tried to help at the crash scene made emotional statements in court before Wickenhauser received his 67-month sentence on criminal vehicular homicide charges.

Mike Hoffman, who lost his mother, wife and daughter in the fatal collision, told the court he experiences pain and heartache every day.

"Our family is incomplete. ... Nothing can pay back what Mr. Wickenhauser has taken from us," he said.

Wickenhauser also was ordered to pay $3,000 in fines and a restitution amount to be determined later.

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