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Lansing man wanted in crash

Driver allegedly fled scene after hitting man’s van with his children inside

By Tim Ruzek

truzek@postbulletin.com

A 24-year-old man is wanted for allegedly running away Sunday night after crashing into the side of vehicle with a man and his two teenage children in rural Austin.

Jason Michael Sokolofsky, of rural Lansing, is charged in Mower District Court with two gross-misdemeanor counts of criminal vehicular operation resulting in bodily harm and a single count of driving after revocation.

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The vehicular-operation counts are related to injuries sustained by the 40-year-old man driving the other vehicle and a 23-year-old woman who was in the back seat of the vehicle driven by Sokolofsky.

Both victims were taken to Austin Medical Center for evaluation. The man had neck pain and the woman had pain in her chest.

A criminal complaint was filed Tuesday with an arrest warrant for Sokolofsky.

According to the complaint, deputies responded about 8:50 p.m. Sunday to a two-vehicle crash in the 26000 block of 580th Avenue in Red Rock Township, northeast of Austin. The man’s van had extensive damage on the driver’s side; the car driven by Sokolofsky had severe damage with both airbags deployed but no one inside or near it.

The 40-year-old man told authorities he had driven out of his driveway with his two children, ages 15 and 12, riding with him and headed north on 580th Avenue. The other car then came around a a curve from the west at a high speed and didn’t make the curve, causing the man to drive his van onto the road’s shoulder.

The other car still sideswiped the driver’s side of the van and then rolled over, the complaint says. People inside the car got out and ran.

While a deputy spoke with the van’s driver, a Brownsdale first responder arrived with two people from the other vehicle whom he had found them along Mower County Road 2.

Omar Daniello Rangel, 24, of Austin, initially told authorities he was the car’s driver and had been drinking, the complaint says. He declined medial attention.

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A 24-year-old woman with Rangel, however, said that Rangel was covering for Sokolofsky, the real driver, the complaint says. Sokolofsky allegedly asked Rangel to take the blame because Sokolofsky has a felony on his record.

The woman said none of the three in the car were wearing seat belts.

After being arrested for lying to police, Rangel said Sokolofsky had been drinking since that morning, the complaint says. Rangel also said he knew Sokolofsky didn’t have a driver’s license but still let him drive Rangel’s vehicle.

Rangel is charged with misdemeanor counts of obstructing the legal process, possessing drug paraphernalia and requiring/permitting an offense by another person. He appears in court April 10.

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