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Trial set for man accused of yanking steering wheel at 62 mph causing crash

OLIVIA, Minn. - A trial is scheduled to start Wednesday, Sept. 5, for a central Minnesota man accused of grabbing the steering wheel of a car driven by his girlfriend and causing an accident that severely injured the woman, as well as himself, wh...

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Damon Wiederhoft
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OLIVIA, Minn. - A trial is scheduled to start Wednesday, Sept. 5, for a central Minnesota man accused of grabbing the steering wheel of a car driven by his girlfriend and causing an accident that severely injured the woman, as well as himself, while causing minor injuries to five children also in the vehicle.

Damon Wiederhoft, 29, of Hector, formerly of Cosmos, returned to district court in Renville County on Thursday on felony charges of assault in the first degree and criminal vehicular operation as well as four gross misdemeanor charges of child endangerment.

The court then scheduled a jury trial to begin Sept. 5. The court issued a ruling May 9 allowing the case to proceed following a March hearing on whether probable cause existed for the charges.

The case stems from an accident in Renville County on July 30, 2017.

The driver of the car and Wiederhoftt were both ejected from the vehicle and suffered severe trauma. The female driver was airlifted to Hennepin County Medical Center in Minneapolis and was in a coma and on a ventilator for several days, She suffered a left orbital blowout fracture to the eye socket, a shattered spleen, collapsed lung, six spinal fractures and blockage of her left renal artery.

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The children were secured in safety restraints and suffered only minor injuries. Investigators determined the vehicle was traveling at 62 miles per hour approximately five seconds before the airbags deployed.

The complaint states Wiederhoft was arguing with the woman driving the car and grabbed the steering wheel and turned the vehicle, causing it to crash.

According to the complaint, the woman was upset with Wiederhoft for consuming alcohol when his probation prohibited it. He had a blood alcohol content of 0.143 percent when collected four hours after the accident, according to the complaint.

A test of the driver's blood found no trace of alcohol, according to the complaint.

Related Topics: OLIVIARENVILLE COUNTY
Tom Cherveny is a regional and outdoors reporter for the West Central Tribune.
He has been a reporter with the West Central Tribune since 1993.

Cherveny can be reached via email at tcherveny@wctrib.com or by phone at 320-214-4335.
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