Charges: Driver in deadly Amish buggy crash was on meth, had her twin sister take the fall
(ABC 6 News, KSTP) – A southeastern Minnesota woman is facing nearly two dozen criminal charges in connection to a crash involving an Amish buggy last fall that killed two children.
Documents filed Monday, Feb. 5, charge 35-year-old Samantha Jo Petersen, of Kellogg, with eight counts of criminal vehicular homicide, eight counts of criminal vehicular operation, two counts of DWI, and counts of no proof of insurance, careless driving and speeding.
They claim that Samantha Jo Petersen colluded with her twin, Sarah Beth Petersen, to deceive law enforcement about her role in the fatal crash.
In October, ABC 6 News accessed search warrants that indicated that the sheriff’s office suspected the woman who claimed to be the driver during the fatal crash on County Road 1, Sarah Beth Petersen, of switching places with her identical twin sister, Samantha Jo Petersen, who may have been the actual driver.
Four children — ages 7, 9, 11 and 13 — were in the buggy at the time. Seven-year-old Wilma Miller and 11-year-old Irma Miller died from their injuries while their siblings were seriously hurt.
According to a criminal complaint, Sarah Petersen claimed responsibility for hitting the buggy when authorities arrived at the scene. However, the first witness at the scene described the driver as a woman wearing a Hy-Vee employee shirt and a bodycam worn by the first deputy at the scene showed that Samantha Petersen was the person wearing that shirt until she changed it a short time later.
Additionally, charging documents state that both sisters work at a local Hy-Vee and Samantha Petersen told a human resources member that she “just killed two Amish people” and added that she was high on meth. When asked why Samantha’s twin would take the fall for her, the employee replied that it was likely because Samantha took care of her sister’s children while she was in prison and the twin may feel the need to return the favor.
As described in Fillmore County search warrants, officers allegedly located Samantha Petersen one day after the crash and obtained a vial of blood, which tested positive for amphetamine, methamphetamine, and THC, according to court documents.
Charging documents go on to state that Samantha had used her phone to search, “What happens if you get in an accident with an Amish buggy and kill two people,” “how to lock an iphone cops have,” and “if you hit a buggy and kill two people are you going to prison?”
The Fillmore County Attorney’s Office confirmed in mid-January that the investigation was wrapped up and attorney Brett Corson would make decisions about charges.
Records show that Samantha has multiple prior DWIs.
Petersen isn’t in custody and is scheduled to make her first court appearance on March 25. She faces up to 10 years on each criminal vehicular homicide charge plus several years for the other counts.
There were no charges filed against Sarah Beth Peterson Monday afternoon.