Man Pleads Guilty in Deadly Hay Bale Accident
Caledonia, MN (KROC AM News) - A man from Houston, Minnesota has pleaded guilty to charges stemming from a deadly traffic wreck that happened last year.
The wreck happened near the town of Houston on March 7th when a semi-truck with a load of large hay bales entered a curve on a rural road the same time a pickup truck was approaching from the opposite direction.
The driver of the truck - 49 year old Randall Hongerholt - later told investigators his load suddenly shifted and ten of the 1200 pound bales fell off the trailer.
One of the large bales struck the approaching pickup truck, which was driven by 59 year old Dale Erickson, also of Houston. His vehicle went into the ditch and caught fire. Some other motorists pulled Erickson’s wife Teresa from the burning truck but he remained pinned until first responders arrived and used cutting tools to get him out. Both were taken to a La Crosse hospital where they later died.
A State Patrol investigator found Hongerholt had not properly secured his load and that speed was also a factor. The investigator also noted Hongerholt did not have a permit for an oversized load.
Hongerholt pleaded guilty Tuesday to a careless driving count and two other misdemeanor charges. He will be sentenced Friday.
A restitution hearing has been scheduled for December.