Hector man pleads guilty in crash he caused by grabbing steering wheel


OLIVIA — A Hector man accused of causing serious injuries to a woman and to himself after causing their vehicle to crash has pleaded guilty.

Damon Dwight Wiederhoft, 29, of Hector, formerly of Cosmos, pleaded guilty Tuesday afternoon in Renville County District Court to one felony charge of criminal vehicular operation with a blood alcohol level of 0.08 percent or more. The crash occurred July 30, 2017, on a rural road north of Stewart and southeast of Cosmos.

He is to be sentenced Oct. 25. A jury trial had been scheduled to begin Wednesday.

Wiederhoft had faced three felony charges for first-degree assault and criminal vehicular operation. He had been charged with five gross misdemeanor charges of child endangerment.

The woman driving and Wiederhoft were ejected from the vehicle and injured. Her five children were in the car when it crash and suffered minor injuries.

The driver was airlifted to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis and was in a coma and on a ventilator for several days, She suffered a left orbital blowout fracture to the eye socket, a shattered spleen, collapsed lung, six spinal fractures and blockage of her left renal artery, according to court documents.

The children were in safety restraints and suffered only minor injuries. Investigators determined the vehicle was traveling at 62 miles per hour approximately five seconds before the airbags deployed.

The criminal complaint states Wiederhoft was arguing with the woman driving the car when he grabbed the steering wheel and turned the vehicle, causing it to crash.

According to the complaint, the woman was upset with Wiederhoft for consuming alcohol when his probation prohibited it. He had a blood alcohol content of 0.143 percent when collected four hours after the crash, according to the complaint.

A test of the driver's blood found no trace of alcohol, according to the complaint.