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Driver On Phone Who Killed Bicyclist Gets Jail, Can Have Case Erased From Record

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By Paul Walsh

Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

(TNS)

A plea agreement for a pickup truck driver who was making a cellphone banking transaction when he fatally struck a bicyclist with her daughters in southwestern Minnesota calls for the felony conviction to be erased from the defendant’s record, the prosecutor said Tuesday.

Christopher M. Weber, 25 a member of the South Dakota National Guard, will be sentenced in Rock County District Court on Dec. 8 to 360 days in jail spread over three years and 300 hours of community service.

Weber, of Brandon, S.D., pleaded guilty Monday to criminal vehicular homicide in the crash on June 30 that killed 33-year-old Andrea Boeve of Steen, Minn., as she was riding her bike on the side of County Road 11, just north of the family’s hometown.

Boeve was pulling a bike trailer carrying her daughters, 1-year-old Mallorie and 4-year-old Claire, when she was run over. Weber stopped and tried in vain to revive the mother.

The older girl suffered a broken rib and punctured lung. The younger girl has recovered from minor injuries.

The plea agreement calls for Weber to serve 180 days in jail in 2015, 90 in 2016 and 90 in 2017, according to County Attorney Jeffrey L. Haubrich.

Once his jail time is over, Weber will be put on four years of supervised probation. After that, Haubrich said, there will be no felony on Weber’s record and the case will discharged.

Criminal vehicular homicide convictions in Minnesota often include prison sentences, but many of those involve drunken driving or fleeing the scene, neither of which occurred in this case.

In 2011 in Anoka County, a driver was sentenced to four years in prison for crashing into the back of a stopped car as she reached for her dropped cellphone. The wreck killed a 14-month-old boy.

Haubrich said “numerous factors” are weighed when plea agreements are reached, and “there is no exact right answer how to handle any case.”

To Weber’s benefit, Haubrich said, “certainly stopping and helping was a good thing. Accepting responsibility and showing remorse from the start was evident with this defendant as he cooperated with the investigation.”

The prosecutor also pointed to Weber’s “spotless record” on the roads and the fact that he is “a veteran who is still active with the National Guard providing valuable public service.” Weber served in Afghanistan in 2009 and 2010.

Haubrich added that “no remedy is adequate to replace a lost life. We believed, given all the considerations that go into a case like this, that this is an appropriate resolution.”

According to the criminal complaint:

Weber said he was trying to navigate his bank’s automated phone system, waiting to hear which number he should press to move to the next stage, when his one-ton flatbed pickup struck Boeve as she biked with her daughters in a bike stroller behind her.

By the time police arrived, Weber was attempting cardiopulmonary resuscitation, but Boeve died at the scene.

“I was on my mobile banking, listening to the voice recorder,” Weber told police, according to the complaint. “I was listening to menu options, listening for a touch tone — which one I needed to push.”

Then, he said, “I heard a thump, like I hit something. … I pulled over as fast as I can and ran back toward the bike, where I saw the gal in the ditch.”

The collision happened just across the road from the home of Boeve’s in-laws.

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©2014 Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

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Driver On Phone Who Killed Bicyclist Gets Jail, Can Have Case Erased From Record