Semi Driver in Crash That Killed 2-Year-Old Minneapolis Girl Accused of Concealing Diabetes

April 24, 2018 10:12 PM

Authorities in Iowa say a 29-year-old South Dakota man has been charged with homicide by vehicle, involuntary manslaughter and serious injury with a vehicle in connection to a crash that killed a 2-year-old Minneapolis girl.

Aurora Wheeler was with her parents, Isaac and Bethany Wheeler, on their way home from Nebraska after watching the solar eclipse last summer.


A release from the Madison (Iowa) County Attorney said William Kenneth Grothe, 29 of Parker, South Dakota, has been charged by trial information as a result of the crash, which occurred on Aug. 21 2017. 

The criminal complaint alleges an inventory of Grothe's semi after the crash located what appeared to be diabetic syringes. And though he stated he was not diabetic, the complaint said medical records show he has been a Type 1 insulin dependent diabetic since age 9.

The complaint goes on to allege Grothe incorrectly stated he was not a diabetic and had not used insulin on the questionnaire used to gain his medical certification for a commercial driver's license.

Pharmacy records from South Dakota reportedly show multiple prescriptions for a diabetic medication in Grothe's name dating back to Feb. 8, 2017, according to the complaint.

RELATED: 2-Year Old Minneapolis Girl Dies in Car Wreck After Watching Solar Eclipse

According to the police report,  Wheeler was killed when a Peterbilt with Grothe at the wheel rear-ended her family's car and pushed it into a Ford van ahead of them.

The criminal complaint states a 911 call had been made prior to the crash reporting a semi driving erratically. That caller also reportedly submitted cell phone video showing the semi driving recklessly and traveling outside its designated lane.

More witnesses reportedly supplied statements and video after the crash. And Isaac Wheeler, Aurora's father, told authorities he had been run off the road by the same semi around 10 miles before the collision.

Traffic was backed up at the time of the crash because a different tractor trailer had gone into a ditch hours earlier and miles ahead, reducing traffic to one lane, according to the Iowa State Patrol. 

The police report stated the Impala had come to a stop after the vehicle in front of the Wheelers did.  Isaac Wheeler, his wife Bethany and Aurora were all reported to have been wearing seat belts at the time.

Issac Wheeler was driving and suffered minor injuries. Bethany Wheeler suffered broken ribs and a traumatic brain injury. She is back home and almost fully recovered.  Bethany and Isaac Wheeler are about to become parents again, as Bethany is pregnant. 

According to the county attorney's release, Grothe is accused of unlawfully causing "the death of a child, and the serious injury of the child's mother, by operating a motor vehicle in a reckless manner with willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property in Madison County."

If the case goes to trial, the Wheeler's plan to be there to confront Grothe and testify.   The owner of the trucking company, who doesn't want to be identified, said he just settled a lawsuit with the Wheeler's. Grothe hasn't worked there since the crash. 

Efforts to reach Grothe have been unsuccessful. 


Frank Rajkowski & Beth McDonough

Copyright 2018 - KSTP-TV, LLC A Hubbard Broadcasting Company


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