A 35-year-old woman joined her twin Wednesday and was charged with concocting an identity-swapping plot being charged with trying to deceive law enforcement into believing that she was actually the SUV driver who hit an Amish buggy last fall in southeastern Minnesota, killing two of the four children on the horse-drawn vehicle.
Sarah Beth Petersen, of Kellogg, Minn., was charged in Fillmore County District Court with eight counts each of criminal vehicular homicide and criminal vehicular operation in connection with the crash involving an SUV and a buggy belonging to the Miller family occurred shortly before 8:30 a.m. Sept. 25 along southbound County Road 1.
The charges largely mimic those filed Monday against twin and roommate Samantha Jo Petersen, except the some of the counts reference that Sarah "assumed responsibility for causing the death of a human being."
Also, Monday's charges allege the Samantha Petersen was under the influence of various illicit drugs at the time of the collision that killed Wilma, 7, and Irma, 11. Hospitalized in Rochester for treatment were Allan, 9, and Rose, 13. The four children were riding to school at the time of the crash, with Rose holding the reins, a family friend said.
Sarah Petersen was charged by summons and is due in court on April 1, a week after her sister's first court appearance. Messages left by the Star Tribune for both sisters since the charges were filed have yet to be returned.
Both twins were at the scene when a deputy arrived. Sarah Petersen told him she was driving the silver SUV involved in the crash, and it is registered to her twin. Parked close by was a black 2002 Toyota 4Runner, also registered to Samantha Petersen. While Sarah Petersen was left alone in a squad car, Samantha Petersen walked over and the two spoke.
Audio from a deputy's pocket recorder captured Sarah Petersen saying, "I think one of the guys is onto me, but I don't really care ... There's no way they would ever know the difference between the two of us, so they can't tell," according to the charges.
Still at the scene, Sarah Petersen insisted to a deputy that she was the driver who hit the buggy.
Samantha Petersen left work at Hy-Vee in Rochester shortly before 8 a.m. on the day of the crash in the silver SUV. Internet mapping measures the southbound route to the crash scene as roughly a 24-minute drive. The crash occurred at 8:25 a.m.
Hy-Vee staff told law enforcement that Samantha Petersen admitted in a work messaging platform that she had used methamphetamine and was high at the time of the collision. "The messages also indicate that [Samantha Petersen] was the driver," a court filing disclosed.
A State Patrol investigation found that the silver SUV was traveling between 61 and 71 miles per hour in a 55 mph zone at the time of the crash.