Man takes 8-year sentence in Woodland crash that killed Duluth woman, injured boy

Hawk Patrick Edwards, 19, who had been living and working in the Williston, N.D., area, pleaded guilty to criminal vehicular homicide resulting in the death of Paula Bergren, 65, and pleaded guilty to criminal vehicular operation causing great bodily harm to her grandson, Edward Everett Bergren.

In St. Louis County District Court on Thursday morning, Edwards admitted that he was driving drunk and made no excuses for the accident that he caused. “I know that I did do it, but I don’t know exactly what happened,” he told the court.

Edwards agreed to serve a four-year prison sentence for each of the two crimes, for a total of 8 years, as part of a plea agreement reached between St. Louis County Attorney Mark Rubin, Edwards and his public defender, Fred Friedman.

“I want to take the 48-48 (months),” Edwards told the court. “It was my fault. … I was drunk.”

Edwards will be eligible to have his prison time reduced if the critically injured boy achieves a substantial recovery. That recovery includes achieving “full use of all of his faculties and limbs,” Rubin told the court.

Judge Shaun Floerke will make the decision on whether the sentence is reduced based on medical reports that will be submitted to him for review. Floerke told

Edwards: “You’ll get ‘fair’ from me, but you won’t get ‘mercy’ from me.”

The court ordered an Arrowhead Regional Corrections probation officer to investigate Edwards’ background before sentencing on March 30.

Under sentencing guidelines, Edwards faced a four-year sentence for the criminal vehicular homicide conviction and an 18-month stayed probationary sentence to be served at the same time for causing the injuries to the child.

However, Rubin filed a motion arguing that a longer-than-guideline sentence was justified. Outside the courtroom, after the hearing, Rubin said that he based his request on the fact that the “injuries to the child were far greater than any other we’ve seen in any recent case, and the driving conduct showed an extreme disregard and indifference to life. Fortunately, Mr. Edwards has agreed to accept the upward durational and dispositional departure. I believe fairness in how a person is treated leads to justice, so we’re going to treat him fairly.”

Paula Bergren was a Woodland resident and well-known in Duluth recreational sports circles as former president of the Minnesota Recreation and Sports Federation and the Duluth Softball Players Association. She also was seen at local events selling subscriptions to the Duluth News Tribune and would have been expected at the boat show this week if she were alive.

She was driving her 1995 Ford Taurus southbound when a 2001 Ford F250 Super Duty pickup driven by Edwards crossed the center line and struck her vehicle on the 2900 block of Woodland Avenue on Jan. 19. She died from her injuries shortly after arriving at the hospital.

Rubin told the court that Edward Everett Bergren has made some progress in his recovery, but that his right side is still paralyzed and his left eye hasn’t opened and he may lose sight.

Edwards’ first statement to police after the accident was: “I just killed those people.”

An investigating Duluth police officer detected the odor of alcohol on Edwards. The defendant admitted to the officer that he had been drinking that morning. His eyes were bloodshot and watery. A preliminary breath test was administered. The result was a 0.11 percent blood-alcohol level. The legal limit to drive in Minnesota is 0.08 percent. After taking the test, Edwards said: “I am going to jail. I deserve to for what I did.”

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