Man Charged In Deadly Wreck Near Twin Cities Released On Bail
Hastings, MN (KROC AM News) - A Roseville man who is facing criminal charges connected to a traffic wreck that killed two people south of the Twin Cities posted bail Thursday and is scheduled to be back in court in November.
The crash happened on Highway 55 east of the Highway 52 oil refinery in 2019.
Two counts of criminal vehicular homicide have been filed in Dakota County Court against 48-year-old Fred Fonji. Killed in the wreck were 48-year-old Colette Craig and her 47-year-old husband William Craig of South St. Paul. According to the accident report, their car was struck by a dump truck driven by Fonji while he was traveling at 55-58 mph on Highway 55.
The complaint was based in large part on a State Patrol accident reconstruction report that says the crash started when Fonji’s truck collided with a pickup truck.
“The pick-up truck then veered off the roadway into the ditch while the dump truck struck the Victims’ vehicle, pushing it into the semi-truck where it split in half and was pinned between the semi and dump truck. The reconstruction report indicated that all vehicles – other than the Defendant’s – were either stopped or nearly stopped when the crash occurred. No other conditions, including alcohol or a controlled substance, weather or road conditions were found to have contributed to the crash. The Defendant should have been able to perceive the slow or stopped traffic ahead of him with enough time to stop.”
A witness explained he saw the semi-truck waiting to turn and saw the dump truck approaching at the posted speed limit. He saw the dump truck hit one car then another before stopping side-by-side with the semi-truck. The witness had to veer into the ditch to avoid a head-on collision. Other witnesses said they didn’t see any brake lights from the dump truck before the crash.
In the days following the crash, a Trooper was contacted by a landfill employee who stated that the driver of the dump truck was always on the phone, including his three stops the day of the crash. Two cell phones were seized from the Defendant and submitted for forensic analysis in October of 2019. However, at that time, the BCA was unable to extract any data due to the software’s limitations. In September 2020, the BCA advised the updated software should now be able to analyze the phone and new search warrants were obtained and executed. The forensic analysis of one phone showed two incoming messages on the WhatsApp application: one at 12:18:50pm and another at 12:19:10pm. The Trooper and squad video reflect his arrival to the scene at 12:20:19pm. Based on the limitations of the software, it could not be determined if the messages were opened or viewed but did register that the phone had “received” both messages.”
The author of the report says a secondary contributing factor to the cause of the crash “could be the defendant’s distraction by a cell phone.”
News update: Grand Meadow woman seriously hurt in Friday crash.