LITCHFIELD — Blake Lee Ahlbrecht pleaded guilty to two felonies Friday for his role in a fatal crash in May 2018 that killed his friend and injured the driver in another vehicle.
Steven Delmer Schmidt, 57, of Atwater, died in the crash May 4, 2018, when Ahlbrecht drove a van into the path of a semi on Minnesota Highway 4 north of Grove City. The driver of the semi was trapped inside his truck and injured.
A jury trial for Ahlbrecht, 63, of Grove City, was scheduled to begin Monday in Meeker County District Court. He pleaded guilty Friday afternoon.
Ahlbrecht pleaded guilty to committing criminal vehicular homicide and leaving the scene and committing criminal vehicular operation and leaving the scene after causing a crash.
Ahlbrecht is to be sentenced June 17.
According to court records, Ahlbrecht was arrested after the crash and was released from jail later that month.
The fatal crash occurred after Ahlbrecht drove his van down Meeker County Road 16 with two friends inside. Witnesses said he drove around a vehicle stopped at a stop sign and pulled onto Highway 4 in front of a semi.
Schmidt was thrown from the vehicle and landed on the road. He did not regain consciousness and was pronounced dead at the scene.
The semi was on its side in the ditch, and the driver was pinned inside and was airlifted to St. Cloud Hospital. The driver and witnesses said he had no time to brake when the van drove in front of him.
After the crash, Ahlbrecht walked away from the scene. A Meeker County sheriff's deputy found him crawling on his hands and knees in a cow pasture nearby.
Open and unopened beer cans were found in and around the van.
Court records say Ahlbrecht failed all field sobriety tests, and his preliminary breath test was higher than 0.08 percent. A blood test about 2 1/2 hours later indicated a blood alcohol concentration of 0.09.
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