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Oronoco woman pleads guilty in 2016 crash death

November 28, 2018

HASTINGS — An Oronoco woman pleaded guilty in Dakota County District Court to charges that she was driving carelessly when she crashed into a car, killing a passenger, in October 2016.

Lori Janine Hoefs, 57, pleaded guilty Monday to gross misdemeanor charges of reckless driving resulting in death and reckless driving resulting in great bodily harm as well as two misdemeanor charges of careless driving.

Hoefs was scheduled to begin trial on Monday on eight charges including two felony charges.

Minnesota State Police troopers as well as Dakota County Sheriff’s deputies responded to a four-vehicle crash near the intersection of Minnesota Highway 56 and County Road 88 in Randolph Township around 10:30 a.m. Oct. 22, 2016.

At the time of the crash, Hoefs told police she was westbound on County Road 88 and unfamiliar with the area, ran a stop sign and crashed into a car that had been northbound on Highway 56, according to court documents. Hoefs admitted that she was using her phone’s speaker phone function at the time of the crash.

An 81-year-old Dodge Center man and his passenger, Brenda Travis, 78, of Rochester, were in the Toyota. The man suffered broken ribs and a broken pelvis as a result of the crash, according to court documents. Travis died as a result of her injuries.

The impact caused the Toyota to go into the southbound lane of Highway 56, where it crashed into another car, carrying two passengers, that was southbound on the highway. Another car was damaged from the debris at the crash site.

A plea agreement between Hoefs and prosecutors indicates that she could be sentenced to up to two years of probation and at least 90 days in jail, according to court documents. She could also be ordered to complete 30 hours of community work service, which would include speaking to groups about the risks of distracted driving.

Hoefs is scheduled to be sentenced Feb. 7 in Dakota County District Court by Judge Jerome Abrams.

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