KANDIYOHI COUNTY, Minn. (WCCO) — A grandmother, her daughter and her 8-year-old granddaughter were killed in a head-on crash in Kandiyohi County on Friday night, and alcohol may be a factor with the other driver, police say.
Police have identified them as Marta Stoffers, 68, of Atwater, Minn., Michelle Hoffman, 40, and Julia Hoffman, 8. Both Hoffmans were from Eden Prairie, Minn.
The 5-year-old grandson, Jason Hoffman, of Eden Prairie, Minn., survived the crash and is at Hennepin County Medical Center, but his condition is unknown, according to police.
Lt. Eric Roeske of the Minnesota State Patrol said Paul Wickenhauser, 21, of Norwood, Minn., was the other driver. Roeske said Wickenhauser is in jail and could be charged with three counts of criminal vehicular homicide, and having an open bottle. They’re waiting on blood tests to determine if Wickenhauser may have been drinking.
The crash took place at 9 p.m. on Friday night on Highway 12 between 8th Avenue NE/52nd Avenue NE and 60th Street NE in Kandiyohi County in west central Minnesota.
The Chevy Silverado that Wickenhauser was driving struck the Chrysler Town and Country that Stoffers had been driving, police say. The van rolled into the ditch and started on fire, where Stoffers and Michelle Hoffman died on the scene. Julia Hoffman died on the way to the hospital.
According to Greg Stoffers – husband of Marta, father-in-law of Michelle and grandfather of Julia and Jason – Michelle and her husband Mike had spent the past two years teaching elementary school in Oman.
They have four children together, and were spending their last week in Minnesota with Mike’s parents in Atwater.
Pam Borgman, a friend and neighbor of the family, spoke about her memories of Michelle and her daughter.
“Julia was just over playing with all our dogs and she just had a way with all animals,” said Borgman.
Pam Borgman says the Hoffmans would often talk about the people they met in their travels
“Michelle is so vivacious and compassionate and a good mom. Such a great mom. It’s such a tragic loss. Unbelievable,” she said.
Borgman says they just had a going-away party for Michelle and Mike Hoffman, who were heading back to Oman in a couple of days to teach again.
The four victims had just gone to the movies before the crash. Marta and Michelle’s husbands were both at the Vikings preseason game.
Wickenhauser has two misdemeanors on his record: a moving violation in 2008, and a petty misdemeanor for underage consumption of liquor in 2009.