Driver says his sneeze led to death of 15-year-old cyclist, Minnesota officials say

·2 min read
Matt Rourke/AP

A driver who Minnesota authorities say struck and killed a 15-year-old cyclist told deputies he lost control because of a sneeze.

The Scott County Sheriff’s Office reported receiving a 911 call about an unresponsive cyclist at about 7:15 p.m. Friday, July 1. When deputies arrived on the scene, they found the teen cyclist had already died, the office said in a news release.

The intersection of the crash, Zachary Avenue and 260th Street East, is in the rural area of Cedar Lake Township, about 35 miles south of Minneapolis.

Local news outlets Fox 9 and Star Tribune identified the cyclist as 15-year-old Braxton Sorenson.

According to the news release, a driver approached deputies after they arrived at the crash site and told them he had hit the cyclist. Authorities said the driver had driven off the road and later realized he had hit the teen.

The 72-year-old driver later told investigators he had his cruise control set at 55 mph when he sneezed and lost control, entering the ditch, and hitting the cyclist as he got back on the road, according to court documents obtained by Star Tribune and Fox 9.

Deputies on the scene reported smelling alcohol on the driver and had him take a field sobriety test. He passed, but Star Tribune reported that the man told authorities he had mixed drinks earlier that evening.

In the backseat of his truck, authorities found a box of Smirnoff vodka, KSTP reported, citing the criminal complaint.

The driver was arrested on site and taken to the Scott County Jail. He appeared in court on Tuesday to face two charges of criminal vehicular homicide, Fox 9 reported. The driver will reappear in court later this month.

Sheriff Luke Hennen said in the news release, “Our hearts are broken for a family who lost their child yesterday. This is a tragic reminder that it is never okay to drink and drive.”

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