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Rochester, MN (KROC AM News) - A Rochester man been charged with causing a traffic wreck Tuesday night that claimed the life of a teenager who was just two blocks from home.

34-year-old Sterling Haukom has been charged with criminal vehicular homicide and a gross misdemeanor DWI count for causing the death of 18-year-old Erika Cruz while allegedly driving while intoxicated by alcohol. He was driving a pickup truck that smashed into the passenger side of the car at the intersection of 12th Street and 8th Avenue Southeast just before 10:30 p.m. according to the criminal complaint, a witness told police Haukom was driving "really fast" north on 8th Avenue when the pickup collided with the eastbound car driven by Cruz.

Olmsted County ADC
Olmsted County ADC

The first officer at the scene indicated he could smell a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on Haukom, who was very animated and talking loudly when he spontaneously stated, "I took that f***ing woman's life, bud." The officer also stated that Haukom's eyes were glassy and his speech was slurred. A blood sample was later taken from Haukom and is being tested to determine his blood-alcohol-concentration.

Conditional bail was set at $30,000 and Haukom is scheduled to return to court on October 23rd. Court records show Haukom was previously convicted of a drunk driving charge in 2016 and was sentenced to one year on probation and fined $300.

A fundraiser has been started to help Erika's family.

It reads in part:

Just as she was maturing and moving into her adult life it was all taken away only 30 seconds from returning home from work. She was literally 2 blocks away from being back home and didn’t make it due to a drunk driver. Now we’ll never see her grow into her career. We’ll never see her graduate college. We’ll never see her get married. We’ll never see her have kids. We’ll never see her or hear her voice again. She was so excited about college and the start of her fitness page and just to do so many things in the world.

The obituary for the young woman says she was a graduate of Mayo High School and was currently studying Sport and Exercise Science at the Unversity of St. Thomas.

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