By Esme Murphy

MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) –  A Hastings man was sentenced to 10 months in prison for causing the accident that killed a Shoreview woman and her adult daughter in July 2018.

An unsecured one-ton boulder came flying off Joe Czeck’s pickup truck. It struck the car Karen and Jena Christiansen were driving, killing them both.

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As WCCO’s Esme Murphy reports, the victim’s family supported a lighter sentence to help Czeck who has a disabled daughter.

Czeck was the owner of Czeck Services, a landscaping company. He was driving a commercial truck near Rich Valley Boulevard and 125th Street in Rosemount, when a 1,100 pound boulder fell from his truck bed and crashed into another vehicle, killing 67-year-old Karen Christiansen and her 32-year-old daughter Jena.

He left the scene and was arrested two days later.

On Tuesday, family members presented emotional statements about their loss.

“They were my wife and my daughter I love them dearly,” Greg Christiansen, the victim’s husband and father said. “I miss them every day, every day.”

Czeck was sentenced to serve 6 months in jail starting immediately, then he will be given 2 months off and then serve another 4 months with work release.

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The unusual sentence was part of a plea deal that the victims’ family agreed to. It was done in part to accommodate Czeck who is the sole provider for his seriously disabled daughter.

In court Czeck apologized to the victim’s family saying in part, “the pain your family is feeling will be with me for the rest of my life. I hope someday you can forgive me.”

His attorney says he is a quality man who made a mistake.

“All his customers and all who wrote letters in support say he is the hardest working guy around,” Defense Attorney Paul Rogosheske said.

Dakota County Attorney Jim Backstrom says the lesson here is twofold, first to secure your load and second to not leave the scene.

“It was a preventable tragedy it never should have happened,” Backstrom said.

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Czeck was also sentenced to 10 year’s probation and has lost his driver’s license for 10 years. He was into custody as soon as the sentencing was over.

Esme Murphy