Charges: Apple Valley group home driver on phone ran red light, killed passenger

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Updated: April 2, 2014 - 2:08 PM

A 29-year-old woman was charged Wednesday with criminal vehicular homicide for running a red light in Apple Valley and crashing a group home van while entering a number on her cell phone, killing one of her passengers.

A 29-year-old woman was charged Wednesday with running a red light in Apple Valley and crashing a group home van while entering a number on her cell phone, killing one of her passengers and seriously injuring others on a weekend shopping excursion.

The crash on April 6, 2013, killed James F. Sundboom, 66, who lived at the home in Apple Valley.

Amanda L. Schlachter, of Apple Valley, was charged by summons in Dakota County District Court with criminal vehicular homicide and three counts of criminal vehicular operation.

“This tragedy underscores the great danger associated with texting or dialing a cellphone while driving,” County Attorney James Backstrom said in announcing the charge.

The crash occurred a few blocks north of the group home, which is owned by Thomas Allen Inc. of West St. Paul. Thomas Allen provides services to people with developmental disabilities.

Thomas Allen executive Jim Valentini said Schlachter’s injuries prevented her from continuing to work and she is no longer an employee.

Valentini added that all of Thomas Allen’s drivers must adhere to training codes and are licensed to operate vehicles for the company, which has homes throughout the metro.

According to the criminal complaint and police:

At about 2:45 p.m. on April 6, 2013, Schlachter was driving a minivan south on Garden View Drive, taking residents back to their group home after a shopping and lunch outing at Ikea near the Mall of America.

Schlachter ran a red light at McAndrews Road while entering a number on her cell phone and hit an SUV. The van rolled onto its side and struck a third vehicle.

Emergency crews had to cut the roof off the van to remove Schlachter and her passengers.

Sundboom was taken to Hennepin County Medical Center, where he died. Two men and a woman in the van were seriously injured, as was Schlachter. Another man in the van was slightly hurt. All were properly belted into their seats, according to police.

The SUV’s driver was slightly hurt. The two people in the third vehicle were not injured.

Schlachter’s driving history in Minnesota includes convictions for speeding and disobeying a traffic signal. A telephone message was left Wednesday with Schlachter seeking her reaction to the charges.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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