Drunk driver charged in fatal crash

Local News

A 20-year-old Winnebago man faces a felony charge of criminal vehicular homicide in an early morning crash that killed a Blue Earth man last October.

According to court documents, Jeffrey Gordon Gunzenhauser was drunk when he drove in the wrong lane and caused the fatal crash.

Charges were filed in Faribault County District Court on Tuesday and Gunzenhauser has been ordered to make his first court appearance on May 24.

He also was charged with gross misdemeanor criminal vehicular operation.

The crash occurred Oct. 31 south of Winnebago on Highway 169 and killed 76-year-old Harold Elvin Renkley.

Winnebago police officer Jacob Pettit, who was off-duty according to Police Chief Eric Olson, witnessed the head-on crash after Gunzenhauser nearly struck his vehicle.

Pettit was southbound around 12:30 a.m. when he had to swerve onto the shoulder to avoid hitting a Dodge Dart traveling north in the southbound lane.

Court papers say that Gunzenhauser failed to brake and kept going in the wrong lane as the officer turned around and called the county dispatcher.

The officer saw the Dodge Dart strike Renkley’s mini-van, according to court documents, as it was traveling south and tried to avoid Gunzenhauser.

A blood sample taken from Gunzenhauser showed that he had an alcohol level of 0.10.

Gunzenhauser, Renkley and a passenger in his vehicle, Stanley R. Oppedal, 84, of Ames, Iowa, were all unconscious.

Renkley died at the scene and Oppedal was transported to a hospital with non-life threatening injuries. Gunzenhauser suffered serious injuries and was airlifted to a Twin Cities hospital.

Crash data provided by the Dart’s airbag control module shows Gunzenhauser did not brake before the crash, according to a State Patrol investigator.

A woman who knows Gunzenhauser reportedly told investigators she was talking with him on the phone when the line suddenly went dead.

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