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Dakota County driver who killed 3 in collision ordered to visit victims' graves

MINNEAPOLIS A 22-year-old woman who caused a crash that killed three people will serve no jail time, but a judge ordered her to visit the gravesites of the victims on the anniversary of the crash. The unusual order was given by Dakota County Judg...

MINNEAPOLIS

A 22-year-old woman who caused a crash that killed three people will serve no jail time, but a judge ordered her to visit the gravesites of the victims on the anniversary of the crash.

The unusual order was given by Dakota County Judge Jerome Abrams in Hastings in the case of Brittany Rose Mertz, who was convicted of careless driving for causing the death of a mother and two children during a 2008 crash in Dakota County.

Mertz, formerly known as Brittany Krueger, was convicted of one misdemeanor count of careless driving but acquitted of three felony counts of criminal vehicular homicide, one felony count of criminal vehicular operation, a gross misdemeanor count of criminal vehicular operation and one misdemeanor count of reckless driving.

The judge's order that Mertz visit the gravesites came after some of the relatives of the victims suggested that she visit their graves as a reminder of what she had done. The judge also ordered Mertz to perform 200 hours of community service and said he wanted her placed with a safe-driving advocacy group. He also ordered restitution for expenses incurred by the relatives of the victims. That amount still needs to be determined.

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She also must take a safe-driving course, remain law abiding and participate in a "restorative conference" with the relatives of the victim if they choose. In such a conference, perpetrators are forced to confront the victims of their crimes.

The case stemmed from the death of three people on April 17, 2008, on Hwy. 52 near 117th Streeet in Inver Grove Heights.

Killed in the crash were Brittany Beth Carlson, 30, of Zumbrota, Minn.; her son Brandon Carlson, 2, and Tamaya Phillips, 4, of Minneapolis. Additionally, two passengers in Carlson's vehicle, a 9-year-old boy and 2-year-old boy, suffered serious injuries.

Krueger was driving north on 52 when she crossed the median and collided with a vehicle driven by Brittany Carlson. Carlson was declared dead at the scene. Tamaya Phillips was taken to Regions Hospital, where she died the next day. Brandon Carlson was taken to the University of Minnesota Hospital and he died on April 28, 2008.

Mertz and a 22-year-old male passenger were not seriously injured in the crash.

A witness told investigators he saw the passenger in the front seat showing something to Mertz and that they may have been passing something back and forth.

The witness reported seeing the passenger grab the steering wheel of Mertz's vehicle and jerking the vehicle back into their lane, although the passenger denied doing so. The vehicle then swerved back across the witness's lane, across the grassy median and into the lane of oncoming traffic, colliding with Carlson's vehicle. No mechanical defects were detected on Mertz's vehicle and no alcohol or drugs were a factor in the crash.

Distributed by MCT Information Services

Related Topics: ACCIDENTS
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