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Man will pay $37K in restitution in Willmar accident that killed three

WILLMAR — Paul Wickenhauser, the 22-year-old Cokato man sentenced to prison for the August 2012 motor vehicle crash that killed three people east of Willmar, was ordered Tuesday to pay more than $37,000 in restitution to the victims’ survivors and their insurance company.

District Judge Donald Spilseth ordered that Wickenhauser pay $3,256 to the insurance company, $17,856.70 to Gregory Stoffers and $16,254.26 to Michael Hoffman. The total amount of restitution was $37,366.96.

Stoffers and Hoffman are the survivors of Martha Stoffers, 68, of Atwater; her daughter-in-law, Michelle Hoffman, 40, of Eden Prairie; and Hoffman’s 8-year-old daughter, Julia. They were killed in a fiery crash Aug. 17, 2012, near where U.S. Highway 12 intersects with Kandiyohi County Road 127. The Hoffmans’ 5-year-old son, Jason, also suffered injuries in the crash.

Wickenhauser was sentenced in August to 67 months in prison and $3,000 in fines on felony charges of criminal vehicular homicide or operation – with an alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more. There was one count for each of the three victims.

During his plea hearing in July, Wickenhauser said he had five to six beers after work in Cokato and then went home for an hour before going to the Dairy Queen there. He said he then drove westbound on Highway 12 toward his brother’s home in Murdock.

According to the State Patrol, Stoffers was driving east in a 2001 Chrysler Town and Country van. Wickenhauser’s 2004 Chevy Silverado pickup was traveling west and hit the van head-on. During the plea hearing, Wickenhauser said he came to and found that the front of his pickup was smashed and that his airbag had deployed.

At the scene of the crash, Wickenhauser admitted to drinking beer and a preliminary breath test showed a blood alcohol content of 0.07 percent. A blood sample was taken at Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar and sent to the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for analysis, which showed 0.09 percent. The threshold for impaired driving in Minnesota is 0.08 percent.

Gretchen Schlosser

Gretchen Schlosser is the public safety reporter, and writes about agriculture occasionally, for the West Central Tribune. She's been with the Tribune since 2006 and has 17 years of experience working in news, media and communications. 

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