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Plea deal reached in Bigler crash

December 4, 2012
By Deb Gau , Marshall Independent

MARSHALL - The man charged with criminal vehicular operation in the car crash that injured three area residents and killed an infant this summer pleaded guilty to amended charges Tuesday in Pope County District Court. A plea agreement in the case was entered at a hearing Tuesday afternoon, the Pope County Court Administrator's Office said.

Dana Allen Schoen, 38, of Starbuck, pleaded guilty to three counts of criminal vehicular operation. Two of those charges were amended from criminal vehicular operation causing great bodily harm, to criminal vehicular operation causing substantial bodily harm, the Court Administrator's Office said. A date for sentencing had not yet been set determined, the Court Administrator's Office said.

In July, Schoen was behind the wheel of a truck that swerved into oncoming traffic and struck a vehicle occupied by the Brad Bigler family.

Bigler, the Southwest Minnesota State University head men's basketball coach, his wife Heather, and Heather's grandmother, Sharon Schuler, of Granite Falls, were injured in the crash. Drake Bigler, the Biglers' five-month-old son, was killed.

Schoen was uninjured in the crash.

According to a criminal complaint, Schoen's blood alcohol level was measured at .351, more than four times the legal limit.

Schoen originally faced three counts of felony criminal vehicular operation charges, and one count of driving while impaired with an alcohol concentration of .08 or more. In July, Schoen had pleaded innocent to all four charges, court records said.

The amended criminal vehicular operation charges would reduce the penalties Schoen could face for those two charges. In Minnesota, criminal vehicular operation causing great bodily harm carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison, while criminal vehicular operation causing substantial harm has a maximum sentence of three years.

Minnesota statutes define "great bodily harm" as injury that creates a high probability of death, or causes permanent impairment or disfigurement. "Substantial bodily harm" includes injuries that are serious, but temporary.



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