Dakota County driver admits nodding off in fatal crash; charge is misdemeanor

  • Article by: Paul Walsh
  • Star Tribune
  • April 2, 2014 - 10:16 AM

A 20-year-old man was charged with a misdemeanor for falling asleep while driving near Rosemount and fatally striking a motorist heading the other way, according to charges filed Tuesday.

Michael W. Steinhoff was charged by summons with misdemeanor careless driving in the death last spring of Angela N. Wear, 32, of Inver Grove Heights.

Steinhoff, of Inver Grove Heights, said Tuesday he fell asleep behind the wheel as he was heading home from work at a retail outfitter.

“I didn’t have any [driving violations] before that,” he said. “It was just a freak thing.”

According to the criminal complaint:

Witnesses to the crash late in the afternoon of May 30 said Steinhoff was driving his SUV east on 160th Street near Blaine Avenue in Empire Township and swerved into the westbound lane at a curve in the road, clipping the side mirror of a car.

A State Patrol crash reconstruction expert determined that Steinhoff then tried to get back on his side of the road but struck Wear’s SUV as she moved into Steinhoff’s lane in a futile effort avoid a collision.

Before an ambulance took Steinhoff from the scene, he told deputies that he had “fallen asleep, felt a bump, woke up, then struck [Wear’s] vehicle,” according to the complaint.

The State Patrol estimated that Steinhoff was traveling 60 miles per hour at impact, while Wear’s speed was estimated at 50 mph. The speed limit on that stretch of road is 55 mph.

If convicted, the maximum sentence Steinhoff would face is 90 days in jail, $1,000 fine or both.

Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

© 2018 Star Tribune