MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) –- An Avon man who struck a horse-drawn buggy from behind, killing its two passengers, has been charged with a misdemeanor for careless driving.

According to court documents, 23-year-old Marc Lucas Knapp was traveling northbound on County Road 9 in Stearns County in December of last year. The horse-drawn buggy, occupied by Robert Alois Keppers, 72, and Mary Joan Keppers, 66, was also traveling northbound on County Road 9 along the shoulder.

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(credit: Stearns County Sheriff’s Office)

The pickup truck hit the buggy, sending it into the east ditch. Both occupants and the horse died in the crash. Investigators say Knapp was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time and there was no indication he was using his cellphone.

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Knapp told authorities he was traveling between 55 and 60 miles per hour when he came around a curve, continuing northbound. Knapp says he did not immediately see the buggy. Before striking it, Knapp told deputies he saw the buggy on the shoulder and in the traffic lane. He says he did not brake and did not have time to avoid hitting the buggy.

Investigators say the buggy had a “slow-moving” sign on it and was traveling lawfully on the roadway. A trooper who reconstructed the crash scene reported Knapp did not drive with due care.

Knapp has been summoned to appear June 13 in court.

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The maximum sentence for a misdemeanor charge of careless driving is 90 days in jail or a fine of $1,000.