A 34-year-old man pleaded guilty Thursday to fleeing from the scene after a half-ton boulder fell from his truck in Rosemount and killed two people in a car heading the other way.
Joseph P. Czeck, of Hastings, entered his plea in Dakota County District Court to two counts of criminal vehicular homicide in connection with the July 9, 2018, incident that killed 67-year-old Karen Christiansen and her 32-year-old daughter, Jena Christiansen, both of Shoreview.
The plea agreement, subject to Judge Arlene Perkkio's approval during sentencing on Jan. 17, calls for Czeck to serve 10 months in jail in two segments during which he'll be allowed to participate in the "sentence to serve" program. That often means being part of a supervised work crew or doing some other community work involving physical labor. Other terms include a stayed prison sentence and up to 10 years' probation.
"This was a senseless and avoidable tragedy that claimed two lives," County Attorney James Backstrom said in a statement released soon after Czeck was charged. "Anyone involved in a vehicle crash must remain at the scene and contact law enforcement."
Czeck was driving along Rich Valley Boulevard in Rosemount just after 4:30 p.m., hauling unsecured boulders in the back of his truck. When the truck crossed over railroad tracks, one of the boulders flew out of the truck bed, crossed the median and bounced into the windshield of an oncoming car.
Czeck kept driving for nearly a mile after the boulder had fallen before pulling over, according to surveillance video from neighboring businesses. He walked around the truck, got back in and took off again in the direction he had been headed. He pulled over once more a short while later for about 2 minutes and then resumed driving.
Czeck never reported the incident. Police arrested him two days later in an Inver Grove Heights home.