A motorist talking on her phone blew through a stop sign at a Dakota County intersection, broadsided a car and killed the passenger, according to charges.
Lori J. Hoefs of Oronoco was charged last week in Dakota County District Court with criminal vehicular homicide and criminal vehicular operation in connection with the collision in Hampton Township on Oct. 22, 2016. The crash killed 78-year-old Brenda K. Travis of Rochester and seriously injured her brother.
Hoefs, 56, told authorities at the time that “she had the phone on speakerphone but was holding it while talking to a friend” as she drove into the intersection, the criminal complaint read.
The charges added that Hoefs “did not stop, brake or make any evasive maneuvers before the crash.” Also, the complaint pointed out, she passed a sign ahead of the intersection warning her of the stop sign ahead, and the pavement has “STOP AHEAD” painted on it.
Hoefs was charged by summons and ordered to appear in court on Aug. 6.
According to the charges, Hoefs was heading west on County Road 88 late in the morning, and ran the stop sign at Hwy. 56. Her SUV struck the passenger side of the car driven by 82-year-old Glen W. Travis, of Dodge Center, Minn. Brenda Travis was dead at the scene. Her brother suffered rib fractures and a broken pelvis.
The impact sent Travis’ car crashing into a third vehicle. Two people in that SUV suffered minor injuries.
The charges weren’t filed until 20 months after the crash, a longer than usual time for this type of case.
The State Patrol finished its crash investigation after 11 months and turned the case over to prosecutors for consideration of charges three weeks later, said county attorney spokeswoman Monica Jensen.
From there, Jensen added, “our office requested some additional investigation, including medical records of the victims and [a] subpoena for the defendant’s cellphone to corroborate that she was on the phone at the time of the crash.”
Jensen said her office “also requested that additional pictures be taken of the approach to the intersection to determine what signage there was warning defendant of the stop sign.”
The second round of investigating wrapped up three weeks ago, she said.