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Bail set at $300K for man in crash that left 3 dead near Willmar, Minn.

WILLMAR -- Paul Anthony Wickenhauser, 21, of Cokato made his first court appearance Tuesday on four felony charges of criminal vehicular homicide and injury for the fiery crash that killed three people Friday east of Willmar.

District Ju-dge Randall J. Slieter set unconditional bail at $300,000 in Kandiyohi County District Court. Conditional bail was set at $50,000 with release conditions including that Wickenhauser submit to electronic alcohol monitoring and not enter bars or liquor stores.

Wickenhauser's next court appearance is Nov. 19.

He also faces a misdemeanor charge of open bottle.

Wickenhauser faces three counts of criminal vehicular homicide for the deaths of Marta Stoffers, 68, of Atwater, her daughter-in-law, Michelle Hoffman, 40, of Eden Prairie, and Hoffman's 8-year-old daughter.

Wickenhauser also faces a felony for criminal vehicular injury for the injuries suffered by a second child in the crash.

According to the State Patrol, the child killed was Julia Hoffman. Michael and Michelle Hoffman's 5-year-old son, Jason, was injured and is hospitalized at Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis. The Star Tribune of Minneapolis has reported that family and friends say Jason will be released from the hospital this week.

According to the criminal complaint against Wickenhausen, he admitted to drinking beer at his home in Cokato. A preliminary breath test at the scene of the crash showed a blood-alcohol content of 0.07. A blood sample was taken at Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar and sent to the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension for analysis.

The head-on crash occurred around 9 p.m. Friday along U.S. Highway 12 near Kandiyohi. According to the State Patrol, Stoffers was driving east in a 2001 Chrysler Town and Country van. A 2004 Chevy Silverado pickup driven by Wickenhauser was traveling west and hit the van head-on. The force of the impact pushed the van into the north ditch of the highway, where it caught fire, according to the State Patrol.

Law enforcement officers found a broken bottle of Captain Morgan rum on the roadway, a cooler containing a case of beer in the bed of the pickup and an open bottle of hard liquor with a portion of the contents removed behind the driver's seat of the vehicle.

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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