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Driver in triple fatality to appear in court

WILLMAR, Minn.  — A  Cokato man will make his first court appearance Tuesday on charges of criminal vehicular homicide for a crash that killed three people Friday east of Willmar.

According to a news release from County Attorney Jenna Fischer, Paul A. Wickenhauser, 21, will appear at 11 a.m. Tuesday in Kandiyohi County District Court on three counts of criminal vehicular homicide for the deaths of Marta Stoffers, 68, of Atwater, her daughter-in-law, Michelle L. Hoffman, 40, of Eden Prairie, and Hoffman’s 8-year-old daughter.

Wickenhauser also will face a criminal vehicular injury charge for the injuries sustained by a second child.

The head-on crash happened about 9 p.m. Friday along U.S. Highway 12, with the van driven by Stoffers catching fire after it came to rest in a ditch, according to the Minnesota State Patrol.

According to Fischer’s news release, Wickenhauser admitted to consuming alcoholic beverages prior to driving that evening.  There was a broken alcohol container on the roadway, a bottle of rum in the cab of the pickup and a cooler of alcoholic beverages in the cargo area of the pickup. Wickenhauser was treated and released from Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar. He is being held in the Kandiyohi County Jail.

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