Duluth dentist voices remorse over drunken driving accident that injured state trooper
DULUTH -- At his sentencing for drunken driving, Duluth dentist Timothy Langguth said Wednesday he feels a special link to the state trooper whose car he smashed in August.
"For the fact that [he] saved my life," Langguth said in Carlton County court, his voice breaking. "If [his] car wasn't between my car and the bridge, I wouldn't be here today. I don't want to waste this second chance."
Langguth was sentenced to 90 days in jail for the collision that injured Minnesota State Patrol Officer Erick Sjodin.
Sjodin, 31, a recent graduate of the State Patrol Academy, was working only his ninth shift alone when Langguth drove his 1998 Subaru Legacy into Sjodin's 2006 Chevrolet Impala squad car about 12:25 a.m. Aug. 22 in the median of Interstate 35 near the Moorhead Road overpass in Cloquet.
Sjodin and his patrol partner, Matt Respet, were responding to a call of a motorist who reported that Langguth's vehicle passed him and then weaved around on the highway.
Langguth, 61, received a three-year suspended prison sentence and three years of supervised probation. District Judge Robert Macaulay also ordered Langguth to pay a $1,500 fine and serve
90 days in jail. The judge said that serving time in this kind of case was important.
"Call [the crash] what you want," Macaulay said, "but it is not an accident. ... It is a crime."
Langguth will serve his time in either the Carlton County Law Enforcement Center or at the Bethel Work Release facility on Mesaba Avenue in Duluth.
Under Minnesota sentencing guidelines, Langguth will be released after serving two-thirds of the sentence if he follows the conditions of his probation.
Langguth pleaded guilty in December to criminal vehicular operation of a motor vehicle with a blood-alcohol concentration of .08 or greater resulting in substantial bodily harm.
Langguth had a blood-alcohol content of .28 at the time of the crash, 3½ times the legal limit to drive, according to court documents.
Sjodin, the married father of three children between 1 and 4, sustained injuries to his abdomen, right kidney and right lung and suffered internal bleeding and contusions to his right leg. He has since recovered and returned to work.
Langguth was initially in critical condition but is recovering from his injuries.
Several people spoke at the sentencing Wednesday, including Angela Sjodin, the wife of Officer Sjodin, who could not attend, as well as Minnesota State Patrol Capt. Steve Strombeck, Langguth himself and attorneys for both sides.
Angela Sjodin said the family held no ill will toward Langguth and that she hopes he can use the rest of his life as an opportunity to help others.
"I want this situation to have a positive end," she said. "This [sentence] is a very temporal one -- there will be an end to it. I just hope that our eternal judge will be able to look at you and say you've been a good and faithful servant."
Langguth said he wrote his statement on paper so he wouldn't forget in his nervousness all he wanted to say. He said he was very sorry for the pain he caused Sjodin and his family, that he was grateful to be alive and that he will continue to work on the changes he needs to make to battle alcoholism.
"I know words aren't enough, but I hope my actions over time will prove me sincere," he said.