WINNEBAGO — A Winnebago man is now charged with criminal vehicular homicide in a crash that killed a Blue Earth man last year on Highway 169.
Jeffrey Gordon Gunzenhauser, 20, was drunk when he drove in the wrong lane and caused the fatal crash, according to charges filed Tuesday in Faribault County District Court.
The crash early Halloween morning south of Winnebago killed 76-year-old Harold Elvin Renkley.
Gunzenhauser was seriously injured and a passenger in Renkley’s vehicle also was injured.
In addition to the homicide charge, Gunzenhauser was charged with gross misdemeanor criminal vehicular operation.
The charging complaint alleges:
An off-duty Winnebago police officer witnessed the head-on crash after Gunzenhauser almost crashed into the officer’s vehicle.
The officer was southbound on Highway 169 around 12:30 a.m. when he had to swerve onto the shoulder to avoid a collision with a Dodge Dart going northbound in the southbound lane.
The Dart did not brake and kept going in the wrong lane as the officer turned around and notified the county dispatcher.
The Dart then collided with Renkley’s minivan at highway speed. Renkley was southbound and tried to swerve but could not get out of Gunzenhauser’s path, the officer witnessed.
Gunzenhauser, Renkley and passenger Stanley R. Oppedal, 84, of Ames, Iowa, were all unconscious. Renkley died at the scene. Oppedal was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries. Gunzenhauser was airlifted to the Hennepin County Medical Center with serious injuries.
A blood sample taken from Gunzenhauser three hours after the crash showed he had an alcohol concentration of 0.10.
A woman who knows Gunzenhauser told investigators she was talking to him on the phone while he drove on Highway 169 and the line suddenly went dead.
A State Patrol investigator examined crash data provided by the Dart’s airbag control module and it showed Gunzenhauser did not brake before the crash.
Gunzenhauser was ordered to make a first remote court appearance May 24.