Roseville man charged in 2019 double-fatal Rosemount crash

A Roseville man has been charged with criminal vehicular homicide corresponding with a crash that happened in 2019.

Dakota County Attorney Kathryn Keena announced that 48-year-old Fred Tamu Fonji has been charged with two counts of criminal vehicular homicide in connection to the fatal crash on Highway 55 near Doyle Path in Rosemount on Oct. 17, 2019, that killed 48-year-old Colette Larae Craig and 47-year-old William Louis Craig, both from South St. Paul.

Fonji made his initial appearance in court on Monday in Dakota County District Court. His bail has been set at $250,000 without conditions and $25,000 with conditions by Dakota County District Court Judge Karen Asphaug. His next appearance in court is scheduled for Nov. 3.

According to the criminal complaint, around 12:20 p.m. on Oct. 17, 2019, a Minnesota State Patrol trooper was traveling westbound on Highway 55 in Rosemount and observed a semi-truck angled from the eastbound lane across to the westbound lane. As the trooper approached, he witnessed a dump truck next to the semi along with a crushed passenger vehicle that had been split in half and smashed between the two. A pickup truck was also observed in the ditch along the eastbound lane of travel, according to the complaint.

The trooper located the drivers of the pickup truck, semi and dump truck. Fonji was identified as the driver of the dump truck. As the trooper approached the passenger vehicle, he found Colette lying face down on the ground outside the crushed vehicle, with her leg still pinned inside. She initially had a faint pulse but it eventually stopped within a few seconds. She was pronounced dead at the scene. William was later found in the driver’s seat and declared dead as well.

According to a witness at the scene, he saw the semi waiting to turn and saw the dump truck approaching. He then told police he saw the dump truck hit one car and then another before stopping side-by-side with the semi. The witness had to veer into a ditch to avoid a head-on collision. Other witnesses said they didn’t see any brake lights from the dump truck before the crash.

In the days following, a trooper was contacted by a landfill employee who stated the driver of the dump truck was always on his phone, including his three stops on the day of the crash. Two cellphones — a Samsung Galaxy and iPhone — were taken from Fonji and submitted for forensic analysis in October 2019. However, police were unable to extract any data due to the software’s limitations.

In September 2020, the Bureau of Criminal Apprehension advised the updated software should now be able to analyze the phone and new search warrants were obtained and executed. According to the complaint, one of the phones showed that messages were received around the same time as the crash, but due to the limitations on the software, it wasn’t determined if the messages were opened or viewed.

A crash reconstruction was completed and found that Fonji had been traveling 55 to 58 mph or faster at the time of the impact with the pickup truck, which veered off into a ditch while the dump truck struck the victims’ vehicle. All other vehicles involved were either stopped or nearly stopped when the crash happened. No drugs or alcohol were considered factors in this case, however, Fonji had plenty of time to perceive slow or stopped traffic ahead of him for him to stop, authorities said.