MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A 33-year-old Hastings man faces multiple felony charges after a half-ton boulder he was transporting fell out of his landscape truck and killed two women in Rosemount, according to the Dakota County Attorney’s Office.
Joe Czeck faces four felony counts of criminal vehicular homicide in connection to the July 9 incident.
According to the criminal complaint, officers were dispatch July 9 at 4:38 p.m. to a crash near Rich Valley Boulevard and 125th Street in Rosemount. Upon arrival, officers located a passenger car partially in the southbound land and partially on the west-side shoulder – facing north. Behind the car was a 1,100-pound boulder. The boulder was initially estimated as being 800 pounds.
It was determined that the boulder struck the car, killing the driver and passenger. They were identified as Karen Christiansen, 67, and her 32-year-old daughter, Jena.
Witnesses at the scene told authorities that boulder fell out of the back of a truck that crossed railroad tracks going southbound on Rich Valley Boulevard. Witnesses say they saw the boulder bouncing on the road before crashing into the victims’ vehicle, which was traveling northbound.
The truck did not stop, and law enforcement did not receive notification of the incident from the driver of the truck.
An investigation revealed that the truck driver, later identified as Czeck, pulled over after traveling nearly a mile and pulled into a driveway. A witness who drove by said he saw Czeck strapping a large boulder down in the back of the truck.
Authorities say surveillance video prior to the crash shows the truck carrying unstrapped boulders.
A contractor was located during the investigation and he stated that on July 9 at around 3 p.m. he loaded a large boulder into a truck owned by Czeck. Czeck is the owner of Czeck Services.
He said Czeck was going to come back at 5 p.m. that day to pick up more rocks, but he never showed up. When he called Czeck around 5:30 p.m. and Czeck told him that a rock had fallen out of his truck and that he would not be coming back that day, according to the criminal complaint.
In attempts to locate Czeck, authorities located and monitored multiple addresses. On July 11, a search warrant was executed at a residence in Inver Grove Heights and Czeck was located and arrested. The truck believed to be involved in the incident was also located inside a secured out building at the residence.
Czeck refused to provide a statement.
Dakota County Attorney James Backstrom extended his sympathies to the families and friends of the victims.
“This is a senseless and avoidable tragedy that claimed two lives. Anyone involved in a vehicle crash must remain at the scene and contact law enforcement. Failure to do so could result in a felony,” Backstrom said.
Czeck made his first court appearance Friday where bail was set at $70,000 without conditions and $30,000 with conditions. His next appearance is set for Oct. 4, 2018 in Hastings.
If convicted, Czeck could face up to 10 years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine for each charge.