North Branch resident was killed in 2019 crash

The case against a Cambridge woman charged in a crash that killed a North Branch man in July 2019 is moving forward.

Madison Rae Amundson, 22, made her first appearance in Isanti County District Court in Cambridge on Dec. 11, 2020, where she was officially charged with felony criminal vehicular homicide. Amundson’s most recent hearing was a remote omnibus hearing held on May 12. Her next hearing, a contested omnibus hearing, is scheduled for Aug. 4. According to court records, Amundson currently lives in Belgrade, but lived in Cambridge at the time of the crash.

Amundson was involved in a three-vehicle crash on her birthday, July 24, 2019, just west of North Branch, at the intersection of Highway 95 and Hornsby Street Northeast in North Branch Township.

According to the Minnesota State Patrol, Amundson rear-ended a stopped Kia Soul where David Lavern Winberg, of North Branch, was a passenger; the Kia Soul was then pushed into another vehicle. Winberg was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to a search warrant administered on Amundson’s cellphone, over a dozen incoming and outgoing messages and phone calls were found on her cellphone from 5:15 p.m. to 5:23 p.m. the day of the crash. The crash took place at 5:20 p.m.

According to the criminal complaint:

Amundson told Trooper Brian Schwartz she blinked or something and did not see the Kia’s brake lights or turn signal. Trooper Richard Orpen then spoke with Tracy Hartmann, the driver of the Kia. It was her passenger, Winberg, who was killed in the crash. Hartmann told Orpen she was stopped, waiting to turn left, and saw the car in her mirror driving way too fast and she knew she was going to get hit.

Orpen then took a taped statement from Amundson who said she understood the Miranda Warning. Amundson said she was going to her boyfriend’s house and she had her cellphone mounted in a holder that attached to the vent.

Amundson stated she updated the address in her GPS prior to leaving Cambridge and that a notification popped on her phone about a minute or two before the crash. She said she was going 55 mph and did not see the brake light or turn signal of the Kia. She said she didn’t even have time to hit the brakes, but attempted to steer to the right at the last second.

Amundson further stated she had a history of seizures, but she had not had one for months, did not have one prior to the crash, and was not currently under any doctor’s care for her condition.

Amundson stated she had used marijuana wax three days prior to the crash. However, she did not observe any indication of impairment based upon the use of the marijuana wax.

Trooper Mark Lund, a certified crash reconstruction and forensic mapping specialist for the Minnesota State Patrol, noted that based upon his crash reconstruction, Amundson failed to slow or use the right bypass lane to go around the Kia and rear-ended the vehicle while traveling 73 mph in a posted 60 mph zone. Lund noted there were no visible indications Amundson braked to avoid the Kia ahead of her and may have just started to steer at impact in order to create the departure angle observed, but did not do so in time to avoid the fatal collision which killed Winberg.

A search warrant was obtained for Amundson’s cellphone. The search warrant showed Amundson sent two messages via Snapchat at 5:15:02 and 5:15:15. At 5:15:53, a Snapchat user sent a message to Amundson.

At 5:15:58, a nine-second video is in cache, having this last access time stamp. The video has a file name which leads investigators to believe it was sent by Amundson via Snapchat. Analysis found the video of the same name was posted to Snapchat stories by Amundson on July 24, 2019, at 3:27:35 and was possibly viewed again to get the time stamp of 5:15:58.

At 5:16:03, a user sends a message to Amundson via Snapchat.

At 5:16:10, a nine-second video is in cache, having this last accrued time stamp. Investigators believe the video was sent by Amundson via Snapchat at one time. Analysis found this video with the same name was posted to Snapchat stories. Amundson posted the video on July 24, 2019, at 3:27:35 and was possibly viewed again at 5:16:10 to get this time stamp.

From 5:17:10 until 5:19:53, a series of outgoing and incoming calls were made, and the Snapchat and Mobile Phone App were opened on Amundson’s cellphone. The time of the crash was 5:20 p.m.

At 5:20:42, an incoming message was sent to Amundson’s cellphone asking if she was OK. The message was read at 5:23:54.

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