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Driver sentenced in I-94 crash case

A Minnesota woman whose alleged drunken auto rampage began with a crash in Woodbury must spend two months in jail and repay thousands in medical costs.

Renae Tollefson, 55, was sentenced to 60 days in jail, up to three years on probation and was ordered to pay her victims $8,735. The Lino Lakes woman pleaded guilty Feb. 7 to two counts of criminal vehicular operation where the driver leaves the scene of an accident.

Washington County prosecutors said Tollefson plowed into two vehicles last year on Interstate 94, including one crash that threw two people off a motorcycle, causing serious injuries.

Police questioned Tollefson in August 2010 after Minnesota State Patrol officers received reports of a hit-and-run crash at I-94 and Radio Drive in Woodbury. The victim in that crash told a 911 dispatcher that his vehicle had been struck by black Dodge Avenger and was able to relay the vehicle's license plate.

The vehicle reportedly continued on the highway, dragging its front bumper.

More calls began flooding into dispatch to report information on the eastbound car, including one report that it had struck a motorcycle.

According to a criminal complaint, a state trooper located the motorcycle in West Lakeland. One of the two victims was laying in the middle lane of traffic.

The motorcycle driver told the trooper he was traveling at 65 mph in the left lane when his motorcycle was struck from behind. The impact of the crash ejected him and his wife from the motorcycle.

The female passenger sustained bleeding on the brain, a right clavicle fracture, a skull fracture and a leg break. The male driver received two broken ribs in the crash.

According to a complaint, Tollefson's vehicle continued on after that crash, crossed the median, entered westbound traffic and struck a guardrail. The trooper was told her vehicle continued on into Wisconsin.

She was later located at a marina in Hudson, where officers said she smelled strongly of alcohol and exhibited slurred speech. Tollefson refused a preliminary breath test.

According to the complaint, Tollefson told a trooper she left the scene of the motorcycle crash because she "just bumped the motorcycle and thought they would follow her off." She later admitted to driving and having two beers prior to driving. Tollefson said she was unaware she had also struck another vehicle and told the trooper she had taken prescription medication.

Other conditions of her probation include paying $2,414 to a state reparations fund, a $1,085 fine, writing a letter of apology, attending alcohol programming and taking medication in prescribed dosage.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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