Third degree murder charges have been filed against an Isle woman who hit and killed a pedestrian outside an Onamia fast-food Mexican restaurant after becoming upset that the restaurant was out of hot sauce.

Brenda Lee Beaulieu, 69 of Isle, has been charged in Mille Lacs County District Court with third degree murder and criminal vehicular homicide in connection with the January 7 incident outside the Taco John’s Restaurant and Mille Lacs Super Stop gas station and convenience store.

A 72-year-old Brainerd woman who was exiting the store was struck and killed by a vehicle that crashed into the store. The force of the crash pushed the woman into an exterior wall. She was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to a criminal complaint filed in Mille Lacs County District Court, , Beaulieu received food from the drive-thru window of Taco Johns. When told the restaurant was out of hot sauce, Beaulieu allegedly became visibly upset, accelerated in the drive-thru lane, squealed the tires of her vehicle and nearly hit a vehicle driving through the store’s parking lot.

Beaulieu accelerated in a nearly full loop around all the gas pumps at Mille Lacs Super Stop with tires squealing. Due to the speed of the vehicle, Beaulieu appeared to lose control of the vehicle, causing it to crash into the front of store, according to the complaint.

According to reports from an officer who was inside the store at the time of the crash, Beaulieu claimed that the truck drove itself and said it lunged forward when Beaulieu shifted from park to neutral. Beaulieu denied accelerating. She told officers that she tried using the brakes, but they did not work. She also told officers the steering wheel spun, but had no affect on the steering of the vehicle.

A Minnesota State Patrol crash reconstruction specialist examined the Beaulieu vehicle and found no pre-existing mechanical defects, the complaint states.

Beaulieu was charged with third degree murder- perpetrating eminently dangerous act and evincing depraved mind as well as criminal vehicular homicide- operating a vehicle in a grossly negligent manner. If convicted, Beaulieu faces a maximum sentence of 25 years in prison on the 3rd degree murder charge and 10 years in prison and/or a $20,000 fine on the criminal vehicular homicide charge.


Jeff Hage is the managing editor of the Monticello Times. He majored in journalism at the University of Wisconsin- Eau Claire.

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