A Dodge Center man who was involved in an accident at the intersection of U.S. Highway 14 and Dodge County Road 3 on September 7th, 2018 that killed a Blooming Prairie Elementary School teacher and her daughter and seriously injured her son was sentenced on Wednesday in Dodge County District Court.
25-year old Tanner Ronald Kruckeberg received a staggered sentence of 180 days in the Steele County Jail, to be served as work release in 30-day increments every year from 2019-2024, for a felony charge of criminal vehicular homicide, operate a motor vehicle in a grossly negligent manner. In addition, he must spend 150 days in jail, also to be served in staggered 30-day increments, from 2025-2029, though those may be waived upon written permission of the court if he is found to be in compliance with his probation terms.
A second charge of felony criminal vehicular homicide, operating a motor vehicle in a grossly negligent manner was dismissed as part of a plea agreement reached on September 5th.
Authorities determined that a Hummer being driven by Kruckeberg had rear-ended a Mercury Milan being driven by 43-year old Rachel Harberts, causing the vehicles to block the eastbound lane of Highway 14. Harberts and her son, 12-year old Jaxon Harberts were found unconscious in the front seat. Harberts’ daughter, 8-year old Emerson Harberts was in the back seat and pronounced dead at the scene.
Jaxon Harberts was transported to Mayo Clinic/St. Mary’s Hospital in Rochester via North Memorial Air, while Rachel Harberts was transported to the same hospital via Mayo 1. Jaxon survived the crash while Rachel Harberts later died from her injuries on September 15th, 2018.
The Minnesota State Patrol determined that Kruckeberg has his cruise control set on 60 miles per hour while traveling west on Highway 14. He admitted to authorities that he was on his cellphone speaking to a friend and when he finished, he looked down to manually hang up. When he looked up, the Mercury was right in front of him. He stated that he did not recall seeing the Mercury stopped with its left turn signal on. Law enforcement did not observe any pre-impact skid marks to indicate Kruckeberg had tried to brake hard before the collision.
In addition to jail time, Kruckeberg must spend 10 years on supervised probation, perform 100 hours of community service via educating the public and students about the impact of distracted driving, follow 21 conditions while on probation and pay $1,080 in fines and fees. Failure to follow the conditions could result in a 57-month prison term.