Albertville woman who hit, killed LaVallee faces felony

The Albertville woman who allegedly struck and killed former Monticello Magic cross-country standout Phillip LaVallee while he was jogging last summer made her first appearance Tuesday in Wright County District Court.

Linda Louise Gullickson, 67, has been charged with criminal vehicular homicide while operating a motor vehicle in a grossly negligent manner, stated a probable cause complaint released by Assistant Wright County Attorney Brian Lutes, who confirmed Gullickson’s court appearance was her first in connection with a felony charge.

If convicted, Gullickson could face a maximum sentence of 10 years in jail, a $20,000 fine or have both punishments imposed. Lutes said in a telephone interview late Tuesday afternoon that a 1 p.m. July 23 court date has been set for Gullickson’s omnibus hearing.

The complaint signed by Lutes alleges that Gullickson’s driving conduct and her level of inattentiveness were so extreme as to amount to gross negligence because she failed to exercise even scant or slight care.

Furthermore, the complaint alleges that Gullickson’s grossly negligent conduct caused her to crash her vehicle into LaVallee, killing him as he made a morning run on County Road 19 in the city of Otesgo.

According to the complaint, at approximately 12:10 p.m. on Aug. 8, 2013, Wright County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrived in the 8000 block of County Road 19 to investigate a single-vehicle crash with injuries.

Law enforcement officers at the scene determined a van driven by Gullickson was traveling north on County Road 19. The van crossed over the southbound lane and drove onto the shoulder, striking LaVallee, who was running north on the shoulder of southbound County Road 19.

After striking LaVallee, the van apparently went into the ditch and rolled several times before coming to a stop on its roof in a nearby yard, a Wright County deputy stated in the complaint.

Furthermore, the deputy stated it appeared the van driven by Gullickson struck LaVallee from behind and carried him for a distance before he was thrown.

The deputy examined the roadway and saw there were no skid marks found anywhere, indicating the driver did not attempt to slow down, stop or change course prior to striking the runner, the court complaint stated. There were no signs of braking or avoidance maneuvers.

A towing company arrived and turned over Gullickson’s vehicle, allowing the deputy to complete an inspection. The complaint states the deputy found a small round dent in the hood of Gullickson’s van towards the passenger side. The deputy also observed heavy damage to the windshield, the complaint stated.

After the van had been lifted by the towing company, the deputy found a cellular phone under the vehicle and determined the phone belonged to Gullickson. The cell phone was collected as evidence.

A detective who was assigned to investigate the case arrived on scene while the crash was still being investigated, the complaint stated. An additional witness was traveling south on County Road 19 when he saw a red van traveling north. According to the complaint, the witness watched as the red van slowly creeped into the southbound lane.

The witness said the van was coming into his lane and watched as the vehicle, later identified as a red Toyota Sienna mini-van driven by Gullickson, veered onto the shoulder of the southbound lane of County Road 19 and struck a man, LaVallee, who was running on the shoulder of the road.

The witness further stated in the court complaint that he moved his vehicle into the northbound lane of County Road 19 to avoid a crash with Gullickson’s oncoming vehicle.

According to the complaint, at the time of the crash, it was sunny and clear and the road conditions were dry. Neither the weather nor the road conditions appeared to have been a factor in this crash, the complaint stated.

When a detective went to the hospital where Gullickson’s had been transported for medical treatment, her family immediately advised the detective that they had spoken with an attorney and would not speak to the detective.

The complaint further states the Minnesota State Patrol executed a search warrant on the Gullickson’s vehicle and obtained crash data maintained by the vehicle. The data revealed the speed of the Gullickson’s vehicle at the time of the crash was 63.4 mph in a 55 mile-per-hour zone.

According to the complaint, the speed of Gullickson’s vehicle was steady and constant at 63.4 mph for the five seconds leading up to the crash, suggesting she was utilizing cruise control.

Furthermore, according to the complaint, the vehicle crash data retrieved from Gullickson’s car revealed she did not apply the brakes on her vehicle at the time of the crash or at any time five seconds prior to the time of the crash.

Gullickson did not slow down or change course prior to striking Phillip LaVallee, the complaint alleges; the vehicle data also revealed no signs of braking or avoidance maneuvers prior to the crash, confirming the road inspection observations of the deputy on the scene. The complaint also states another detective obtained records for  Gullickson’s cellular phone. Those records showed she received an incoming call from her husband’s telephone number on Aug. 8, 2013, at 12:09 p.m. The call went unanswered and went to voicemail. The initial 911 call reporting the crash came in at 12:09 p.m.

The complaint further alleges that based upon phone records and the timing of when the crash was first reported to 911 dispatchers, it appears at or near the time of the crash,  Gullickson was receiving a call on her cellular phone from her husband that went unanswered.

The probable cause complaint filed against Gullickson in Wright County District Court concludes by stating that a separate investigation conducted by another detective revealed that there was no indicated medical condition that caused Gullickson to drive off of County Road 19 and strike Phillip LaVallee.