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Butterfield man charged for crash that severely injured woman

(St. James, MN) – A Butterfield man will face criminal charges for an accident that caused severe injuries to a woman last spring.

Justin Scott Goecke, 29, was charged in Watonwan County Court with criminal vehicular operation – great bodily harm, a felony.

On April 10th, Goecke was northbound on 640th Avenue just north of Butterfield when his pickup drifted over the centerline and hit a southbound Cadillac head-on, according to the crash report.  The Cadillac was driven by Kathleen Marie Svalland, 74, of Butterfield.   Svalland was driving about 30 miles per hour because of inclement weather conditions, according to the report.

Goecke’s back tires were bald and not street legal, according to the criminal complaint.  Emergency personnel found pills in his truck which Goecke identified as codeine, according to court documents.  A blood sample later indicated the presence of hydrocodone in Goecke’s system, according to the complaint.

Svalland suffered severe injuries in the crash and was transported to a Mankato hospital before being transferred to a health facility in Rochester. The complaint details her injuries as an ankle fracture with bone loss, a part of her tibia broken or missing, an open femur fracture, five broken ribs, broken sternum, and an air pocket in her lung.  Investigators say she hadn’t walked since returning home on May 23rd.  Doctors have not said she’ll never walk again, but haven’t said that she will, either, according to the complaint.

Goecke told police his stepmother had given him the pain medication to give him relief from a foot injury.  He admitted to taking one of the pills.

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