Lakeville man who blamed fatal 2022 crash on sneeze sentenced to jail, probation

Court documents show a Lakeville man will serve 30 days in jail and two years on supervised probation for charges stemming from a 2022 crash involving a 15-year-old bicyclist.

According to a court register, 72-year-old Joseph Friedges filed a guilty petition Wednesday to charges of careless driving, failing to tell police about an injury crash as well as possession of an open bottle. He was sentenced that same day.

Initially, Friedges was charged with two counts of criminal vehicular homicide — one for driving in a grossly negligent manner and another for driving negligently while under the influence of alcohol. The charges were later amended.

In addition to serving jail time and probation, Friedges must also attend a MADD Impact Panel, write a letter of apology and pay more than $1,000 in fees.

As previously reported by 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS, deputies were called to a crash near Zachary Avenue and 260th Street West in July of 2022, with the caller saying a 15-year-old was biking when a vehicle hit the teen and then left the scene. The teen then died at the scene.

A 72-year-old man at the scene, identified as Friedges, said that he struck the victim with his truck. Friedges claimed he was driving east on 260th Street East when he left the roadway and struck the victim. A criminal complaint says Friedges claimed he sneezed, which caused him to go into the south ditch. He added that he didn’t realize he had hit anyone until he looked back and saw the teen lying there.

RELATED: Charges: Man who fatally hit teen cyclist blamed crash on sneeze

Deputies saw heavy front-end damage to the 2003 GMC truck and also noted Friedges had red eyes, smelled of alcohol and had a box of vodka in the back seat of his vehicle. The complaint states Friedges admitted to drinking a couple of hours before driving and then agreed to perform field sobriety tests. A preliminary breath test showed a result of .05 and a blood draw was also taken.