Altura teen pleads guilty in crash that killed 3 classmates
An Altura teenager pleaded guilty Thursday to careless driving in connection with an accident that killed three Lewiston-Altura High school classmates last year and seriously injured another.
The plea was entered in Winona County District Court by 18-year-old Adam Paul Greden as part of an agreement in which the lesser charge of careless driving was added, according to the Winona County Attorney's Office.
Greden had been charged with three counts of criminal vehicular homicide and one count of criminal vehicular operation after the April 23, 2010, crash that killed Shauna Marie Ruhoff, Morgan Zeller and Katie Hornberg.
Cydney Maker was injured in the crash and had a lengthy hospitalization before returning home.
Some family members of the victims have said they're upset with the plea agreement.
However, Kevin Ruhoff, the father of Shauna Ruhoff, who was the driver of the car carrying the four girls, said he and Shauna's mother, Sue Ruhoff, have no problem with the lesser charge.
"I don't believe he deserves to be (charged) for homicide," Ruhoff said. "They were just kids being kids, and an unfortunate accident happened. I don't think there's really anybody to blame but, basically, the inexperience of youth. There are a few lives that have been ruined already; there's no sense in ruining another young man's life."
Family members and friends of the three girls participated Thursday in a memorial assembly at Lewiston-Altura High School in Lewiston.
"Friends of the three girls shared their thoughts and memories with the student body, and some students sang some songs as a tribute," said Principal Jeff Apse.
"We also had a groundbreaking ceremony for the memorial garden that's being constructed on the north side of the school. The girls' parents were asked to be the ones that broke the ground ... there was a representative from each family," Apse said.
Greden's plea was entered in advance of a jury trial that had been scheduled to start May 9. His sentencing is scheduled for May 12.
Greden was being tried under extended juvenile jurisdiction as opposed to being tried as a juvenile or an adult. Under extended juvenile jurisdiction, he can be placed on probation until he's 21, and he could face an adult sentence if he violates probation.
Greden, who was 17 at the time of the crash, was accused of driving a vehicle that was racing with a pickup that the four girls were in shortly after school let out for the day. Ruhoff lost control of her truck and it went into a ditch.