Truck driver arrested after boulder falls off truck, kills 2 in Twin Cities
HASTINGS, Minn.—A Hastings man is jailed in connection with the deaths of a Shoreview mother and daughter who were killed Monday when a boulder — 3 feet across and weighing 800 pounds — fell off a dump truck and crashed into their car, police said.
On Wednesday, Rosemount police detectives identified Czeck Services as the company that owned the truck involved in the crash and determined that its owner — Joseph Paul Czeck, 33 — was the driver, Rosemount Police Chief Mitchell Scott said.
Czeck, who did not stop at the scene, was arrested Wednesday and booked at Dakota County Jail on two counts of criminal vehicular homicide, pending formal charges.
Czeck remained in custody Thursday and has declined to give a statement to police, Scott said.
Karen Christiansen, 67, was driving a Toyota Avalon north on Rich Valley Road about 4:50 p.m. when a boulder fell off a southbound truck, tumbled several times and hit her car south of 125th Street, police said.
Christiansen and her 32-year-old daughter, Jena Christiansen, who was in the front passenger seat, died at the scene.
"You could try and duplicate this a million times and you wouldn't get the same results," Scott said. "The thing is, this could have been prevented if the load had been secured."
Scott said "good old-fashioned police work" led to Czeck's arrest.
Investigators learned that a camera at Pine Bend Refinery in Rosemount captured the truck driving from the accident scene. The photo shows several large boulders in the back of the truck, however, the company's logo was not clear enough to distinguish, Scott said.
Investigators searched for construction sites and spoke with workers who may have seen the truck, a 1999 Sterling Acterra. At a site off Minnesota 3 in the Inver Grove Heights-Eagan area, workers identified the truck as belonging to Czeck Services, a landscaping company, and said it had been there Monday picking up boulders.
Czeck was taken into custody Wednesday evening at a relative's home in Inver Grove Heights.
According to data with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, dated through June 29, the company had no reported crashes on record and one safety violation, for failure to wear a seatbelt. The company had two registered vehicles and only one driver, presumably Czeck.
Minnesota court records show Czeck has been convicted of six moving violations since 2003, including speeding in Dakota County in 2013.
He is scheduled to make an initial court appearance Friday in Hastings.