An arraignment is scheduled for a SE. Minnesota trucker facing misdemeanor charges after one of many hale bales he lost from his semitrailer truck hit a pickup truck and killed the couple inside.
Randall C. Hongerholt, 49, of Houston, Minn., has been charged with careless driving, failure to secure his load, a wide-load permit violation and not having insurance. His arraignment in Houston County District Court is scheduled for July 14.
The victims in the March 7 incident on County Road 9, northeast of the city of Houston, were Teresa E. Erickson, 52 and her husband, Dale O. Erickson, 59. They lived in Houston and had been married 27 years.
A message was left with Hongerholt’s attorney seeking a response to the charges.
According to the State Patrol:
The semi was heading south on County Road 9 and approaching a curve near County Road 21 when “it lost large, round bales of hay.”
One of the bales struck the northbound pickup, causing Dale Erickson to lose control of the vehicle. It crashed into a ditch to the right and caught fire.
All vehicles are required to secure their load in a manner that prevents any of its load from dropping, shifting, leaking, blowing or otherwise escaping from the vehicle, Patrol Lt. Tiffani Nielson said a few days after the deaths.
“This fatal crash, unfortunately, is exactly why we have these laws in place — to prevent injuries or death,” she said. “A family is grieving a terrible loss that could have been prevented.”
Hay bales vary greatly in weight, depending not only on dimensions but density. A federal study analyzed seven deaths in Minnesota in the mid-1990s associated with large hay bales and found that the bales ranged from 750 to 1,500 pounds.
Teresa Erickson was president of the Houston Food Shelf for three years and an active member of Looney Valley Lutheran Church. On her schedule was a ministry trip in 2016 to a children’s hospital in Tanzania.
Known as “Banjo,” Dale Erickson had worked for many years for the Houston County Highway Department. His firework shows were enjoyed by many on the 4th of July in Lanesboro.