A Minnesota semi-truck driver has been arrested for speeding through a construction zone and fatally striking a worker. Tate Doom, 47, of St. Paul Park, Minnesota was allegedly watching pornography moments before he hit and killed a construction worker.
The crash took place on I-94, an interstate in between Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota.
Doom was charged Friday in Hennepin County District Court with criminal vehicular homicide and criminal vehicular operation, per the Star Tribune.
Here’s what you need to know:
1. The Accident Happened Last October as Doom’s Semi Rear-Ended a Pickup Truck and Trailer Merging Left
On October 2, 2018, Doom rear-ended a pickup truck and trailer that was merging left because of construction blocking off the right side of the road.
According to KSTP, the trailer separated itself from the Ford pickup truck when Doom rear-ended the vehicle.
It was sent hurtling into a construction zone where it fatally struck one worker and left another with several severe injuries. Both of the workers were standing on the shoulder of the road as they were working on a drilling project in preparation for road work starting months later, per the Tribune.
2. An Investigation into the Crash Proved That Doom Was Watching Porn at the Time of the Crash
Although Doom initially denied the claims that he was watching pornography at the time of the impact, State Patrol investigators proved that he was.
The investigation seized two cell phones from Doom’s semi for forensic examination. They found he deleted 14 video files from Pornhub.com and also determined that Doom’s semi was traveling 72 mph, slightly above the posted limit of 70 mph at the time of the accident.
Doom allegedly rear-ended the pickup truck well after it moved into the lane Doom was in. The truck was going 50 mph while Doom was traveling 72 mph despite claiming otherwise, per KSTP.
They also discovered that the last video Doom was watching on his phone came less than 90 seconds before Doom struck the pickup and trailer.
“It appears, based on the investigation, that he was watching pornography at the time of [impact],” Chuck Laszewski, spokesman for the County Attorney’s Office, said, per the Star Tribune.
3. The Accident Was Preventable According to a State Patrol Lieutenant
According to Lt. Tiffani Nielson of the State Patrol, the crash was preventable. The Star Tribune talked to Nielson shortly after the crash happened in the fall of 2018. “The crash was preventable,” Nielson said.
“It is frustrating for construction workers who have to be out in all conditions, all types of weather and they have to focus on what they are doing,” Nielson said. “They can’t pay attention to traffic like we do … they have to focus on what they are doing, and that’s where they have to rely on the public to drive in a safe manner around them.”
Even prior to the investigation that revealed Doom was watching porn at the time of the crash, Nielson felt like he would be charged.
“I would say it’s likely,” Nielson said regarding the chances of Doom being charged with something.
4. Vernon C. Hedquist, 59, of Pillager, Minnesota Was the Man Killed
59-year-old Vernon C. Hedquist of Pillager, Minnesota was the victim killed because of Doom’s reckless driving. Hedquist was always careful about safety precautions when he worked, according to his wife.
“He absolutely was very concerned about his safety on the job,” Hedquist’s wife, Cindy told the Tribune at the time of the crash. The two had been married for 34 years.
Hedquist was a Sunday school teacher who enjoyed hunting and was looking forward to his 60th birthday the following month. He was an employee of WSB & Associates since 2014 and was also a longtime Minnesota Department of Transportation worker before that.
5. Thomas J. Wood, 64, Was Struck by Debris from the Crash but Survived
Hedquist’s co-worker, Thomas J. Wood was injured due to the debris that resulted from the accident.
According to the Tribune, Wood’s injuries were the only other ones reported. He was hospitalized at Maple Grove Hospital. They were determined noncritical injuries.
Doom was a driver for Vermeer of Minnesota in Burnsville, which sells heavy equipment for recycling and forestry needs. He was booked Friday on a $30,000 bail and has yet to seek out any legal counsel.