Man gets four years for leaving accident
A Georgetown, Minn., man will spend four years in prison for leaving the scene of a fatal accident Aug. 30 on Highway 75. Clay County District Court Judge Galen Vaa imposed that sentence Friday on Geoffrey Ronald Gilbertson, 21, on a charge of le...
A Georgetown, Minn., man will spend four years in prison for leaving the scene of a fatal accident Aug. 30 on Highway 75.
Clay County District Court Judge Galen Vaa imposed that sentence Friday on Geoffrey Ronald Gilbertson, 21, on a charge of leaving the scene of criminal vehicular homicide.
Court documents said Gilbertson was northbound on the highway and, after passing another vehicle, saw oncoming traffic and pulled back into the northbound lane. He then rear-ended a vehicle in front of the car he passed. Gilbertson told police he overcorrected and lost control, causing his car to cross the center line and collide with a southbound vehicle driven by Russell Dean Thompson Jr., 34, Moorhead.
After the impact, Gilbertson's car burned and Thompson's vehicle rolled in the ditch, killing him.
When officers arrived at the crash scene, Gilbertson was not there. He later told an investigator he walked to his Georgetown home after the crash, took a shower and iced his ankle, which was injured.
Friday's sentence came following a plea hearing in a courtroom filled on one side with Gilbertson's family and on the other with Thompson's.
During the hearing, prosecutor Pamela Harris read 10 victim impact statements from Thompson's family and friends.
Harris asked for the four-year presumptive sentence under Minnesota sentencing guidelines.
Daniel Mohs, Gilbertson's attorney, countered by noting that 93 people sent letters of support to the judge asking for leniency for Gilbertson. Mohs asked for probation.
After both sides had their say, Gilbertson apologized to Thompson's family,
Vaa said the crash was preventable and Gilbertson "took extreme measures to get back to his house" afterwards.
The judge said he did not see enough mitigating factors on the crash to depart from sentencing guidelines.
Readers can reach Forum reporter Tom Pantera at (701) 241-5541