PRESTON, Minn. — Law enforcement is investigating identical 35-year-old twin sisters to determine who was driving an SUV that crashed into an Amish buggy last month in southeastern Minnesota, killing two children and injuring two more.
Sarah Beth Petersen, of Spring Valley, was initially identified as the driver, but later law enforcement believed they had cause to think that it could have been her identical twin sister, Samantha Jo Petersen, who was driving.
Seven-year-old Wilma Miller and 11-year-old Irma Miller were killed in the crash. Their siblings, 9-year-old Alan Miller and 13-year-old Rose Miller, were injured. The Miller family, from Stewartville, has received an outpouring of community support following the crash, including more than $88,000 raised in an online fundraiser.
According to initial reports from the Fillmore County Sheriff’s Office, at 8:25 a.m. on Sept. 25, a 2005 Toyota 4Runner driving south on Fillmore County Road 1 came up from behind and struck a southbound two-wheeled horse-drawn Amish buggy. The collision happened near the intersection with County Road 102.
No criminal charges have been filed against either Petersen sister.
Court documents detail the events leading up to and immediately following the crash. According to the police report, it was Sarah Petersen who showed signs of impairment following the crash, and a sample of her blood was taken to check for evidence of that. Sarah was identified as the sole occupant of the SUV, and her sister, Samantha, had come separately in another vehicle to the scene of the crash.
Now, police appear ready to rewrite those initial findings.
Ongoing police investigation has suggested that it was not Sarah but in fact Samantha who was the driver involved in the crash, and who was potentially impaired.
While on the scene of the crash, squad car audio picked up a conversation between the sisters while Sarah was sitting in the vehicle. The two discussed how law enforcement could not tell them apart.
Among the evidence that supports that conclusion, on Sept. 26, law enforcement spoke to a coworker of the sisters who said that Samantha had admitted to being the driver at the crash. Samantha told the coworker that she was on methamphetamine and she had killed two Amish children after crashing into their buggy.
“I f—– up. I just killed two Amish people,” Samantha Petersen allegedly told the coworker.
Phone records also point to Samantha as the driver. The phone number used to call 911 is the same number that Samantha provided to law enforcement at the scene.
A search warrant for a blood draw and a full set of fingerprints for Samantha was requested and granted by a judge on Sept. 26.
“From prior law enforcement contacts, it has been found Sarah and Samantha have identified themselves as the other,” an investigator with the Fillmore County Sheriff’s Office wrote in the search warrant. In 2017, Sarah Petersen was convicted in Fillmore County for using her sister’s name during a traffic stop.
Police also reviewed security camera footage, taken at another site earlier on the day of the crash, that showed Samantha driving the vehicle that later crashed into the buggy.
In addition to fingerprints and blood draws, law enforcement requested and were granted search warrants related to the sister’s phone data and forensic evidence inside the vehicle involved in the crash, including diagnostic data that will show what the vehicle was doing before and during the crash.
Fatal drug overdoses remained high last year but plateaued, Minnesota Department of Health says
State adds 8,000 jobs in Sept.; unemployment steady at 3.1%
Farmington teen killed in motorcycle collision in southern Minnesota
Aging U.S. power grid to get $3.5B update; Minnesota to share largest grant
Search warrant: Couple suspected of selling meth before 5 officers shot in Benton County