Brown accepts plea agreement in crash deaths

A man charged with causing an accident that led to the deaths of two people has pleaded guilty in the case.

Austin W. Brown, 21, of Fort Dodge, pleaded guilty to two counts of vehicular homicide by reckless conduct, a Class C felony, shortly before noon Tuesday.

The pleas are part of an agreement with prosecutors. Brown was originally charged with two counts of vehicular homicide by OWI.

At the hearing Tuesday, Brown told Chief Judge Kurt Wilke, of the 2nd Judicial District, that he was distracted on Dec. 21, 2012, while driving his 2002 GMC pickup on Nelson Avenue, just south of John F. Kennedy Memorial Park.

“I was texting previous to the accident,” Brown told Wilke.

“And you crossed the center line?” Wilke asked Brown.

“Yes,” Brown replied.

Brown’s pickup crashed head-on into a 2002 Ford station wagon, which was being driven by Joseph Reigelsberger, 23, of Rolfe. Reigelsberger and one of his passengers, Debra Lundt, 57, of Pocahontas, were pronounced dead at the scene.

Under questioning from Wilke, Brown also admitted that he had “three illicit drugs” in his system at the time of the crash.

“Do you believe that the combination of your texting, the poor weather conditions and those three illicit drugs caused this accident?” Wilke asked.

“Yes,” Brown replied.

Wilke accepted Brown’s guilty plea and scheduled sentencing for Jan. 21, 2014.

He faces up to 10 years in prison.