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Jail time is stayed for man, 56, in crash that left 1 dead

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news Willmar, 56201
Willmar Minnesota 2208 Trott Ave. SW / P.O. Box 839 56201

OLIVIA -- A Hector man was sentenced to community service for his conviction of careless driving in an accident that left one young man dead and two other young people severely injured.

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Douglas Folkens, 56, must perform a minimum of 100 hours of community service for the misdemeanor conviction.

District Judge Randall Slieter stayed a 90-day jail sentence for one year during a court appearance Tuesday in Olivia. Folkens had entered a plea in the case in August.

The sentencing Tuesday came after a tearful Folkens again apologized for his role in an Oct. 20, 2009, accident that killed a 20-year-old college student, Joshua Baldwin, of Montevideo, and severely injured two other young friends.

David Kriesel of Glenwood, the driver of the car in which the friends rode, has permanently lost his vision as a result of the accident and underwent multiple surgeries for injuries suffered throughout his body. Passenger Haley Schwenk, of Appleton, has undergone extensive medical procedures as well, and suffered multiple facial injuries that have left her permanently scarred.

"I'm sorry from the bottom of my heart, but I can't change the results," said Folkens after he took the witness stand and fought tears to describe events leading to the accident.

Folkens is believed to have fallen asleep while driving on U.S. Highway 212 west of Sacred Heart around midnight.

Evidence at the scene indicated that Folkens crossed the center line with his 2007 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck and struck a westbound 1996 Ford Taurus head-on.

The driver of the Taurus appears to have attempted to evade the accident before being struck.

"I don't know how I ended up on the side of the road," said Folkens. "I wish I could change it. I wish I could change spots."

Folkens and his brother Charles had spent that day and the previous day harvesting soybeans on land they farm near Clinton. Folkens and his brother both testified that they had not consumed any alcohol and that Folkens had about nine hours of sleep the night before.

Folkens said they finished their work ahead of schedule. Both felt upbeat that they had done so before an advancing rain system. "We patted each other on the backs and headed home," said Folkens.

He left the farm about 10:15 p.m., stopped in Ortonville for fuel and some pizza before heading east and south toward his home in Hector. "I remember going through Granite Falls and remember seeing the ethanol plant with the lights on the building," he said, adding: "Then I don't remember anything."

Folkens, a father of two adult sons, has since the accident met privately with and apologized to David Kriesel and his family, and with the mother, father and sister of Haley Kriesel.

Wendy Russell, mother of Joshua Baldwin, told the court that she wanted to see Folkens perform community service for Minnesotans for Safe Driving rather than serve time in jail. "Fines and jail time offer me nothing," she told the judge.

A civil suit providing restitution to the victims was approved by the two sides.

Renville County had also filed a petition on behalf of the victims seeking restitution through the criminal system, but the court ruled that it could not be considered. A recent Court of Appeals decision based on a Kandiyohi County case prevents restitution in criminal matters when civil restitution has been provided, according to the court.

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