A Dodge Center man was sentenced Wednesday to seven to 12 months in jail for being distracted by his cellphone when he hit another vehicle on a southern Minnesota road and killed the other motorist and her daughter.
The sentencing of Tanner R. Kruckeberg, 25, comes about two months after he pleaded guilty in Dodge County District Court to criminal vehicular homicide in connection with the crash last year that killed Rachel Harberts, 43, and her 8-year-old daughter, Emerson.
Harberts’ 13-year-old son, Jaxon, also was in the vehicle and suffered serious injuries.
Rachel Harberts, also of Dodge Center, was a first-grade teacher and junior high volleyball coach in Blooming Prairie. She and her children were heading to school for the start of classes. Emerson was a third-grader and Jaxon was in seventh grade.
Judge Jodi Williamson’s sentence sets aside a prison term of nearly five years and calls for Kruckeberg to serve 30 days in jail yearly for seven years, with the next five years of 30-day jail terms waived if he abides by the terms of his probation. Those terms include no alcohol or illicit drug use, submitting to random chemical testing and undergoing a mental health evaluation.
Other than Kruckeberg’s first 30-day stint, which is scheduled to begin this month, all the others are to begin annually on Sept. 7. The crash occurred on Sept. 7, 2018.
He must also perform 100 hours of community service during which he will educate the public about the impact of distracted driving, according to court records.
Kruckeberg admitted to authorities that while driving his family’s 4,700-pound Hummer H3, “he was looking down at his center console area to put away his cellular phone, when he looked up [and] rear-ended the [Harberts’] Mercury,” according to a search warrant affidavit filed by the State Patrol.
His Minnesota driving record shows that he has been piling up infractions in southern Minnesota from age 16, even after the fatal crash. On July 11 of this year, he was ticketed for speeding.
In 2014, Kruckeberg was convicted of using his cellphone to text while driving, according to court records. He was convicted at least nine other times for speeding and three times for driving while his license was suspended.
His license was valid at the time of last year’s crash, according to the state Department of Public Safety.