Driver In Fatal Claremont Crash Admits To Phone Distraction
A motorist with a history of driving infractions admitted that his cellphone diverted his attention right before he rammed his SUV into the back of a stopped car on a southern Minnesota road, killing the other driver and her daughter.
The driver of the SUV, twenty-four-year-old Tanner Kruckeberg, of Dodge Center, was not injured in the crash. Potential charges are awaiting the completion of the State Patrol's investigation, which could take as long as 90 days from the date of the crash.
Forty-three-year-old Rachel Harberts was taken off life support and died on Saturday, eight days after the Sept. 7 crash on Hwy. 14 in Claremont killed her 8-year-old daughter, Emerson Harberts, and badly injured 12-year-old son, Jaxon Harberts.
According to the Star Tribune, Kruckeberg admitted to authorities that while in his family's 4,700-pound Hummer H3 "he was looking down at his center console area to put away his cellular phone, when he looked up, he rear-ended the [Harberts'] Mercury," according to a search warrant affidavit filed by the State Patrol.
Kruckeberg is expected to release a statement later today in regards to the accident.
Rachel Harberts was a lifelong Minnesotan and a first-grade teacher and junior high volleyball coach at Blooming Prairie School. She and her children were headed to school before the start of classes for all three that Friday. Emerson was a third-grader, and Jaxon is in seventh grade.
A Go Fund Me campaign has been started to help cover the family's medical and funeral expenses.
Kruckeberg has had numerous driving infractions starting when he was 16 years old through April of this year where Kruckeberg was cited for going 89 miles per hour in a 70 mph zone. Kruckeberg paid that $150 fine over the phone after pleading guilty about a month later.
He was convicted in 2014 for using his cell phone to text while driving in Rochester, according to court records. He's also been convicted at least nine times for speeding and three times for driving while his license was suspended. Kruckeberg also has four convictions for underage drinking and one for illicit drug possession.