94-year-old charged in fatal crash

TRUMAN – A 94-year-old Truman man is charged with criminal vehicular homicide related to a February 2012 car crash that killed a 55-year-old Truman woman.

According to information from the Minnesota State Patrol:

Sylvan Arthur Behrens was driving a van northbound on Highway 15 on Feb. 2, 2012. Motorists behind him reported they saw Behrens’ van weaving over the center line on several occasions, forcing oncoming traffic to take evasive action.

Behrens also failed to drop his speed as he drove into Truman, and ended up rear-ending a vehicle driven by Virginia Murphey, causing Murphey’s vehicle to crash into a tree.

Murphey was unresponsive at the crash scene, and later died as a result of her injuries.

Behrens and his wife also suffered injuries in the crash, and Behrens has no memory of the accident.

Computer data from Behrens’ vehicle indicated it was traveling 55 mph immediately before the crash.

A state patrol crash reconstruction specialist filed a report stating: “It is my conclusion that the primary cause in this crash was Sylvan Behrens was driving … in a careless, inattentive manner and at a speed of 55 mph in a 30 mph zone when he struck the rear of a (vehicle) driven by Virginia Murphey.”

The maximum penalty for the criminal vehicular homicide charge is 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine.

Faribault County Attorney Troy Timmerman is prosecuting the case, because of a conflict within the Martin County Attorney’s Office.

“We can’t excuse what happened,” Timmerman said of his office’s decision to press charges. “We can change what type of penalties there will be.”

The long delay between the crash and the filing of charges may have to do with a combination of things.

“The state patrol is very thorough in working on these type of cases,” Timmerman said. “Plus the transfer of the case from [the Martin County Attorney] could also be a part of it.”

Whether Behrens will be able to stand trial because of his age is yet to be determined. It also is unknown if Behrens had retained a lawyer.

“Those things we still have to find out,” Timmerman said.