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Driver in fatal snowmobile crash is sentenced

Mark Andrew Ruder, the driver involved in the snowmobile crash that resulted in the death of off-duty Alexandria Police Officer Patrick Callaghan, was sentenced Friday.

Ruder, 25, of Alexandria was fined $90 and will pay another $85 in court fees. He won't spend any time in jail.

His conviction was deemed a petty misdemeanor after he pleaded guilty to two charges - operating a snowmobile at a greater speed than reasonable circumstances allow and operating a snowmobile without a valid safety certificate.

The fatal snowmobile crash took place January 29 on the Central Lakes Trail east of Alexandria near Liberty Road.

After reviewing the case file and the facts and circumstances that led to the crash, Douglas County Attorney Chris Karpan had earlier decided to not press felony-level charges.

Karpan said that the small fines Ruder was ordered to pay should not be looked at as a punishment for Callaghan's death.

"Sometimes, a lot of little things go wrong at the same time that result in an overall tragic end," Karpan stated in an e-mail sent to the newspaper Tuesday. "While that may well be the case here, it cannot be overlooked that Mr. Ruder ran into the back of Mr. Callaghan - which means he was driving too fast for the conditions - and that he did not have a snowmobile safety certificate, something required under Minnesota law."

Karpan added that Ruder has taken responsibility for those violations of the law.

"While the ramifications of those three seconds will no doubt haunt the thoughts of everyone close to Mr. Callaghan forever, as far as the court system is concerned, this matter is closed," Karpan said.