MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A 21-year-old man from Cokato, Minn. was charged with criminal vehicular homicide Monday, in connection with a weekend crash that killed three generations of a family.
According to the criminal charges, Paul Wickenhauser told police he started drinking around 5 p.m. on the night of the crash. He said he had about five 12 oz. beers until about 7:15 p.m. A preliminary breath test gave a reading of .07.
Michelle Hoffman, 40, her 8-year-old daughter Julia and her mother-in-law, 68-year-old Marty Stoffers, died in the crash last Friday night near Willmar. Hoffman’s 5-year-old son, Jason, was seriously injured but is expected to recover from his injuries.
Wickenhauser is also being charged with one count of criminal vehicle injury.
Police say the crash happened around 9 p.m. Friday. Wickenhauser was driving, crossed the centerline of Highway 12 east of Willmar and crashed head-on into the Stoffers’ vehicle. The Stoffers’ vehicle went into the ditch and caught on fire.
Officers noted there was an odor of alcohol on Wickenhauser’s breath and that his eyes were bloodshot. Police say there was a broken alcohol container on the roadway and a bottle of rum in the cab of the pickup. He’s also been charged with one count of possession of an open bottle.
A cooler with a case of beer in the cargo area of the pickup was also spotted by police. Officers noted that Wickenhauser vomited several times while waiting for transportation to the law enforcement office.
The Hoffman family is from Eden Prairie, but they were living in Oman where Michelle and her husband, Michael, taught English. Friends close to the family told WCCO-TV they were there visiting and about to return overseas to teach for one more year.
Wickenhauser will make his first court appearance at 11 a.m. Tuesday.