KANDIYOHI COUNTY (TEC-RF) - August 12 - After half-an-hour's worth of gut-wrenching victims' impact statements, a Cokato man was given a 67-month prison sentence for driving drunk and killing a child, mother and grandmother. 22-year-old Paul Wickenhauser was sentenced Friday afternoon in Kandiyohi County District Court.
The collision on August 17th 2012 on Highway 12, east of Willmar, killed 68-year-old Marta Stoffers of Atwater, her daughter-in-law 40-year-old Michelle Hoffman of Eden Prairie and Hoffman's 8-year-old Daughter Julia. 5-year-old Jason Hoffman was injured in the crash. Michael Hoffman lost his mother, wife and daughter in the crash and said he can't express how much suffering the crash has caused him and his family. He says every time he has the impulse to tell his wife something, or sees Julia's toys or drawings the dispair washes over him. Mike's sister Melissa told Wickenhauser "you took 3 generations of women from our family." A statement from Matt Gomez, who witnessed the crash, said he is haunted by memories of seeing the impact and watching the children screaming inside the van as it burned.
He said he has had to go through therapy. Jose Alvarado of Kandiyohi also came upon the crash, and after checking on the condition of Stoffers and Hoffman, he broke out the van's back window and rescued Jason and Julia from the burning van, although Julia later died of her injuries. He said Wickenhauser will have to live with what he did, and he wished him luck. Wickenhauser also spoke and tearfully said he "can't apologize enough, and hopes someday you can forgive me for all I've done to you." Judge Don Spilseth then imposed a sentence of 67 months in prison for Wickenhauser's guilty plea to three counts of criminal vehicular homicide. He will have to spend at least 44 months behind bars and the rest on probation. He also fined him $3000 and left the matter of restitution open for the next 30 days.
(Thanks to JP Cola at Willmar Radio for information)