Duluth dentist sentenced in drunk driving crash with state trooperThe Duluth dentist and Moose Lake man who collided with a parked Minnesota State Patrol trooper in August while driving drunk was sentenced Wednesday in Carlton County Court.
By: Jana Peterson, Pine Journal
The Duluth dentist and Moose Lake man who collided with a parked Minnesota State Patrol trooper in August while driving drunk was sentenced Wednesday in Carlton County Court.
Timothy Robert Langguth, 61, received a three-year suspended sentence and three years supervised probation pursuant to a plea agreement. District Judge Robert Macaulay also ordered Langguth to pay a $1,500 fine and serve 90 days in jail with the possibility of serving that time in a work-release program. Macaulay said serving some time in this kind of case was important.
“Call [the crash] what you want,” Macaulay said, “but it is not an accident … it is a crime.”
Langguth pleaded guilty in December to criminal vehicular operation of a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol concentration of .08 or greater, resulting in substantial bodily harm. Another charge of criminal vehicular operation of a motor vehicle resulting in substantial bodily harm was dismissed.
Minnesota State Patrol Officer Erick Sjodin, 31, graduated from the State Patrol Academy in April and was working only his ninth shift alone when Langguth drove his 1998 Subaru Legacy into Sjodin’s 2006 Chevrolet Impala squad car on the passenger side about 12:25 a.m. Aug. 22 in the median of Interstate 35 near the Moorhead Road overpass in Cloquet. Sjodin and his patrol partner, Matt Respet, were responding to a call of a motorist who reported that Langguth’s vehicle passed him and then weaved around on the highway.
Langguth had a blood-alcohol content of .28, three and a half times the legal limit to drive, at the time of the crash, according to court documents.
Both vehicles were total losses. Sjodin, the married father of three children between 1 and 4 years old, sustained injuries to his abdomen, right kidney and right lung and suffered internal bleeding and contusions to his right leg. He has since recovered and returned to work.
Langguth was initially in critical condition but is recovering from his injuries.
Several people spoke at the sentencing Wednesday, including Angela Sjodin, the wife of officer Sjodin, who could not attend, as well as Minnesota State Patrol Capt. Steve Strombeck, Langguth himself and attorneys for both sides.
Angela Sjodin said the family held no ill will toward Langguth and that she hopes he can use the rest of his life as an opportunity to help others.
“I want this situation to have a positive end,” she said. “This [sentence] is a very temporal one – there will be an end to it. I just hope that our eternal judge will be able to look at you and say you’ve been a good and faithful servant.”
Langguth said he wrote his statement on paper so he would not in nervousness forget all he wanted to say. He said he was very sorry for the pain he caused Sjodin and his family, that he was grateful to be alive and that he will continue to work on the changes he needs to make to battle alcoholism.
“I know words aren’t enough, but I hope my actions over time will prove me sincere,” he said.
He also said he felt a special link to Sjodin.
“For the fact that [he] saved my life,” Langguth said with his voice breaking. “If [his] car wasn’t between my car and the bridge, I wouldn’t be here today. I don’t want to waste this second chance.”
Since the crash, Langguth has completed chemical dependency treatment programs at Miller Dwan in Duluth, Hazelden in southern Minnesota and an after-care program at the Center for Alcohol and Drug Treatment in Duluth. Langguth is currently in a program that will monitor his progress through meetings and periodic urinalysis tests.
Langguth’s attorney, David Keegan, showed the court a box filled with some 200 letters of support received by Langguth since the crash in August.
“Most of [the letters] also reflect a hope that the trooper and his family also come through,” Keegan said. “I’ve never had so many people ask about [a client] and a case and what they could do.”
Macaulay also said he didn’t know if he’d ever been so moved by letters he received regarding a case and by the statements made in the courtroom.
“You’re obviously a person of many gifts and you’ve shared them with other people and that’s very evident,” he told Langguth. “But, this was and remains a serious violation of the law.”
He also referred to Langguth’s 1998 DUI conviction and that he suspected if Langguth could turn back the clock and make that his “eye-opening experience,” he would.
“Good luck to you, Mr. Langguth, and to you, Mrs. Sjodin,” Macaulay told them.
Sjodin hugged Strombeck and another patrol officer afterward.
“I’m glad that’s done,” she said.