As members of the victims’ families wept, the California man charged in a head-on collision that resulted in the death of three Minnesota men pleaded guilty to three of nine charges as part of a plea agreement.
On Tuesday afternoon’s hearing, Serghei Kundilovski, 36, of Orangevale, appeared with his attorney, Scott S. Schlough of River Falls and a Russian interpreter before Dunn County Judge James Peterson Tuesday afternoon — a little more than a week before a trial in the case was set to begin.
Kundilovski entered guilty pleas to three charges of homicide by intoxicated use of vehicle. Read into the record and dismissed were three counts each of first degree reckless homicide and knowingly operating while revoked as well as a traffic citation for nonregistration of a vehicle. His driver’s license was revoked in June after being convicted of operating while intoxicated in Sauk County.
The maximum penalty for the Class C felony is a $100,000 fine and/or up to 40 years in prison for each count. A bond of $300,000 bond was revoked, a pre-sentence investigation ordered, and a sentencing hearing was set for Monday, Feb. 5.
Following the hearing, Dunn County District Attorney Andrea Nodolf said she anticipates that the sentencing will be a lengthy one as will be the sentence that will be sought: “The families have a lot to say, and there were tons of witness statements.”
About the case
State Trooper Kyle Devries, the officer who conducted the accident reconstruction, testified during the preliminary hearing that witness statements corroborated the physical evidence that Kundilovski was behind the wheel of a 2004 Mitsubishi Diamante heading west in the eastbound lanes of Interstate 94 when he collided with a 2015 Kia Soul on the shoulder near the median at milepost 33.5.
Devries said the Kia was lying on its side, while the Diamante was on its wheels. Both vehicles were facing north.
Killed in the fiery crash were the driver of the Kia, Adam Kendhammer, 32, along with passengers Jeremy A. Berchem, 27, and Bryan Rudell, 29. All three were from Minneapolis. According to the autopsy results, each man died from multiple traumatic injuries due to a motor vehicle accident.
A can of Ultra Duster compressed air was found near the driver’s side front tire and another on the passenger’s side front floorboard of Kundilovski’s vehicle. Devries confirmed that compressed air is used for “huffing”, or sniffed to produce a euphoric effect.
A blood sample taken from Kundilovski after the accident showed that although his blood alcohol level was 0.02 — below the legal limit of 0.08 — the results revealed a concentration of 0.022 or ethanol and 1.1 of difluoroethane. Both are ingredients found in aerosol sprays and gas duster products.