SUV driver admits being on phone when she ran Dakota Co. stop sign, killed woman in car

November 27, 2018

A motorist has admitted in court to being on her cellphone when she blew through a stop sign at a southern Dakota County intersection, broadsided a car and killed the passenger.

Lori J. Hoefs, 57, of Oronoco, pleaded guilty Monday in Dakota County District Court to reckless driving and careless driving in connection with the collision in Hampton Township on Oct. 22, 2016, that killed 78-year-old Brenda K. Travis of Rochester and seriously injured her brother.

Hoefs told authorities at the time that she had the phone on speakerphone but was holding it while talking to a friend as she drove west on County Road 88 into the intersection at Hwy. 56, the criminal complaint read.

The charges added that Hoefs did not stop, brake or make any evasive maneuvers before the crash. According to the complaint, she passed a sign warning her of the stop sign ahead at the intersection, and drove over pavement painted with the words STOP AHEAD.

Her SUV struck the passenger side of a 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. Hoefs was not hurt.

Hoefs was charged in June 2018 with two more serious counts, criminal vehicular homicide and criminal vehicular operation. The plea calls for those charges to be dismissed.

Judge Jerome Abrams ordered an investigation ahead of sentencing, which is scheduled for Feb. 7.

Paul Walsh 612-673-4482

Update hourly