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Driver in fatal Minn. crash admits phone use

HASTINGS, Minn. -- An Oronoco woman has pleaded guilty to causing a crash that killed one person and injured three others on a rural Dakota County road in 2016.

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Lori Janine Hoefs (Courtesy of the Dakota County Sheriff's Office)

HASTINGS, Minn. -- An Oronoco woman has pleaded guilty to causing a crash that killed one person and injured three others on a rural Dakota County road in 2016.

Lori Janine Hoefs, 57, on Monday pleaded guilty in Dakota County District Court in Hastings to two counts of gross misdemeanor reckless driving and two counts of misdemeanor careless driving in connection with a Oct. 22, 2016, crash in Randolph Township.

Hoefs admitted to being on her phone at the time she ran a stop sign, killing 78-year-old Brenda Travis of Rochester, Minn., prosecutors say.

The crash also seriously injured Travis’ brother, Glen Travis, 81, of Dodge Center, Minn. Travis, who was driving, sustained a broken pelvis and broken ribs.

Just before 10:30 a.m., Glen and Brenda Travis were heading north on Highway 56 in a 2012 Toyota Camry when they were hit broadside at County Road 88 by a 2014 GMC Terrain that Hoefs was driving westbound, according to the Minnesota State Patrol. Glen Travis did not have a stop sign at the intersection.

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The Camry then was struck by a 2010 Ford Edge driven by 36-year-old Erica Myking of Burnsville. She sustained an injured ankle, while her passenger Renee Piersas, 36, of Bloomington suffered a gash to her head.

A crash reconstruction showed that Hoefs did not stop, brake or make any evasive maneuvers prior to the crash, according to a Dakota County criminal complaint.

Hoefs told investigators that she was unfamiliar with the area and did not see the stop sign. She said she had her phone on speakerphone, but was holding it in her hand while talking to a friend, the complaint said.

Sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 7, the Dakota County attorney’s office said.

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