A truck driver has been charged in connection with a pileup crash that claimed one life near Rochester, Minnesota, last December.
Fifty-nine year old truck driver Christopher Huffine is facing misdemeanor charges for reckless driving and careless driving, according to KROC.
The charges were issued following an investigation into a crash that occurred during foggy conditions on Highway 52 north of Rochester near Pine Island on December 15, 2021.
Northbound Highway 52 near Pine Island, just north of Rochester, is closed due to several crashes in the area. MnDOT says the road could be closed until around 11:30am. @WCCO pic.twitter.com/MZJyogB62w
— Nick Streiff (@nickstreiff) December 15, 2021
The crash involved 3 commercial vehicles and three passenger vehicles.
According to a criminal complaint filed on Tuesday, the chain-reaction crash began when a driver in a white Volvo semi slowed on Highway 52 due to fog and traffic from a previous crash. A blue-green Freightliner then rear ended the white Volvo, causing the Freightliner to become disabled across both lanes of the highway.
A Cadillac, a Honda Accord, and a Honda Pilot all stopped either on the left shoulder or in the left lane due to the truck crash.
Two other passenger vehicle drivers pulled over on the right shoulder at a good distance from the crash. These cars were not involved in the pileup. Court documents say that the driver of one of the cars on the right shoulder was standing on the roof of the vehicle to try to warn others of the crash.
A white Freightliner driven by Huffine moved from the right lane to the left lane after spotting the passenger vehicles on the right shoulder.
The white Freightliner then struck the Pilot, the Accord, and the Cadillac before also hitting the blue-green Freightliner.
The Accord became wedged under the white Freightliner’s trailer.
Hwy 52 northbound remains closed and detoured south of Pine Island as State Patrol continues to investigate a Wednesday morning crash. Crews are working at removing the vehicles. https://t.co/OTCwFEXoKh pic.twitter.com/X50rdeyn0v
— MnDOT District 6 (@mndotsoutheast) December 15, 2021
A passenger in the Accord, Bonita Sawyer, 65, died at the scene. The Accord driver, Debra Jane Bieber, 67, suffered life-threatening injuries.
Two people in the Pilot suffered non life-threatening injuries.
After the crash, Huffine told a trooper that he moved over after spotting the activity on the right shoulder, but then due in part to foggy conditions, he wasn’t able to stop in time to avoid the stopped cars. Huffine said that the cars on the left lane/shoulder were about 100 feet away by the time he was able to see them. He said that he was traveling at speeds of 65 to 67 m.p.h. prior to the crash and at less than 60 m.p.h. when the crash actually occurred.
Huffine is scheduled to appear in court October 18.