Trucker Charged in 2021 Deadly Pile-Up Crash Near Rochester
Rochester, MN (KROC-AM News)- Olmsted County prosecutors have charged a Tennessee truck-driver for his role in a deadly chain-reaction crash that happened near Rochester in December 2021.
The criminal complaint filed Tuesday says the six-vehicle pile-up started on Hwy. 52 north between Pine Island and Oronoco when one semi-truck rear-ended another as traffic was slowing due to a crash further north on Hwy. 52. The semis were blocking the road and caused a Cadillac, Honda Pilot and Honda Accord to stop in the left lane and on the left shoulder.
The Accord was lined up behind the Pilot which was lined up behind the Cadillac when a semi-truck, driven by 59-year-old Christopher Huffine, came up to the crash scene at an estimated speed of 60 mph and struck the Accord around 9 a.m. The crash resulted in the Accord being wedged under the semi’s trailer, according to the complaint.
A passenger in the Accord, identified as 65-year-old Bonita Sawyer of Rochester, was pronounced dead at the scene. The Accord’s driver, 67-year-old Debra Jane Bieber of Rochester suffered life-threatening injuries. Two passengers in the Pilot were treated for non-life-threatening injuries and none of the occupants in the Cadillac were hurt, according to the State Patrol Incident Report of the crash.
Huffine, the driver of the Cadillac and the other truck-drivers involved were unharmed. Huffine told a state trooper at the scene that he had tried to stop for the stalled vehicles but said he did not see them in time due to the thick fog. The brake lights on the stopped vehicles were functioning, the complaint says.
Huffine faces a gross-misdemeanor and misdemeanor count for reckless driving and one misdemeanor for careless driving. He’s been summoned to appear in Olmsted County Court on October 18.