Driver in rural Wilmont crash that killed Worthington teen is sentenced to 96 months in prison

"You were on your way to a funeral, but you caused one instead,” said Jorge Fuentes, whose brother Erick Fuentes was killed in the July 6 collision.

Prairie Justice Center in Worthington, Jan. 17, 2023.
Prairie Justice Center in Worthington, Jan. 17, 2023.
Kari Lucin / The Globe

WORTHINGTON — Nine months after a two-vehicle crash resulted in the death of a Worthington teen, friends, family and victims of the crash gathered in a Nobles County courtroom Tuesday for the sentencing of the driver, who pled guilty to second-degree manslaughter.

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Twenty-year-old Sylias Kamm, Wilmont, was charged with multiple felonies following the July 6 crash in which he reportedly ran a stop sign at an intersection, driving significantly over the speed limit near Nobles County 15. The pickup truck Kamm was driving collided with a white Chevy pickup carrying five adult males and 19-year-old Erick Fuentes , who died on the scene due to multiple blunt force injuries.

(Kamm, Sylias Andrew - #202200531).jpg

“A big hole was left … we didn’t get a chance to say goodbye,” said Erick’s older brother, Jorge Fuentes, who spoke prior to Kamm's sentencing about the impact the crash and death of his brother has had on his family. He described to the courtroom the last time he saw Erick while helping their sister move into a new apartment. “I would give anything to have that day back. I cannot stop thinking about him … People say he’s in a better place now, but he wasn’t supposed to be there yet.”

Passengers in the white pickup, as well as the two juvenile passengers traveling with Kamm on their way to a funeral, were also injured in the collision. Olivia Van Ede, who was riding in the backseat of the green pickup driven by Kamm, was hospitalized for several weeks following the crash.

“I’ll never be able to forget this tragedy,” said Van Ede, who also read a victim impact statement before the court. Due to her injuries, which included three crushed vertebrae, broken ribs, a collapsed lung and brain bleeds, she has been unable to return to school. She said she prays to one day finish up her senior year, and prays for the families and people affected by the crash and the loss of Erick.


“You were driving reckless,” said Fuentes, addressing Kamm during his own statement. “You made it, but my brother didn't. You were on your way to a funeral, but you caused one instead.”

Due to the number of victims, the severity of the collision, and the involvement of minors who not only witnessed but were harmed in the crash, an upward departure was recommended during sentencing.

Assistant County Attorney Braeden Hoefert, who represented the case for the state, said that throughout the investigation and court process, he had moments where he doubted Kamm’s understanding of the collision, particularly in regard to previous comments from Kamm that “accidents happen."

“I take issue with that,” Hoefert said. “A fender bender is an accident. Spilling milk is an accident. Running a blind intersection is not an accident.”

He stated that Kamm’s actions and behavior leading up to the July 6 crash showed a “complete disregard for the lives of other people.”

Kamm entered a guilty plea on Jan. 25, and was convicted of one count of second-degree manslaughter. The other charges were dismissed, as per the plea agreement. With the agreement, he voluntarily accepted a sentence of 96 months in prison.

“I realize the defendant is young, and this is double the recommend sentence,” Hoefert said, but added that with the loss of life and impact of family and friends, Kamm had “dished out a few life sentences of his own,” and that the sentence Kamm serves won’t be as long as what the victims of the crash will have to endure.

“I can’t explain how I feel,” Kamm said in addressing the court. “No one wakes up and intends to get into a car wreck and I’m sorry … I should have been better than what I was.”


Judge Sherry Haley accepted the recommendation and Kamm was sentenced to 96 months in prison, with an opportunity for supervised release after 64 months. He will receive 16 days for time already served and is expected to pay $160 in court fees. Restitution claims in connection with this case had not been filed at the time of sentencing.

“There is nothing (Kamm) can do, or that this court can do, to fix what happened,” Haley said, addressing the courtroom. “I wish there was. I’m sure he wishes there was.”

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Emma McNamee joined The Globe team in October 2021 as a reporter covering Crime & Courts, Politics, and the City beats. Born and raised in Duluth, Minn., McNamee left her hometown to attend school in Chicago at Columbia College. She graduated in 2021 with a degree in Multimedia Journalism, with a concentration in News & Feature Writing and a minor in Creative Writing.
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