Mantorville, MN (KROC AM News) – A Dodge Center man has pleaded guilty to causing a traffic wreck that claimed the lives of a Blooming Prairie teacher and her young daughter.

The deadly wreck happened Sept. 7 last year when the Hummer being driven by 25-year-old Tanner Kruckeberg rear-ended a car that had stopped to make a turn near Claremont. Investigators said Kruckeberg was using his cellphone at the time.

He was charged with two counts of criminal vehicular homicide for causing the deaths of 43-year-old Rachel Harberts of Dodge Center and her 8-year-old daughter Emerson. The woman’s 12-year-old son was seriously injured.

Under a plea agreement, Kruckeberg pleaded guilty to one of the counts and he will be sentenced at a later date.

The criminal complaint says Kruckeberg told investigators his cruise control was set at 60 mph at the time of the wreck. There were no skid marks to indicate he braked to avoid the collision. The complaint says Kruckeberg told investigators he had been talking to a friend on his phone. He said he was looking down to hang up the phone and when he looked up he saw a car “right in front of him.” Investigators say a search of his cellphone indicated Kruckeberg was “on his phone using an online banking application.”

Kruckeberg has a history of driving offenses dating back to his teens - including one when an officer saw him either texting or looking at his cellphone. That was in 2014 while Kruckeberg was driving on Highway 52 in Rochester. He also has nine speeding convictions on his record, dating back to when he was 16. Three involved speeds of over 80-miles-per-hour, including one at 89-miles-per-hour. Three of the speeding tickets were issued before he turned 17. Kruckeberg was also given four tickets for driving after his license was suspended.

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