Driver who struck construction worker won't be charged with a felony

Laura Berg was left with serious, life-altering injuries in the crash last summer.
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The driver who struck a construction worker seconds after looking at her phone will not face felony charges.

That was the decision made by the Anoka County Attorney's Office, which declined to file charges against Jordan Paulus, 20, over the collision in East Bethel on July 31, 2017.

Paulus allegedly glanced down at her phone after receiving a notification, and during the momentary distraction didn't see that cars ahead of her had stopped.

To avoid crashing into the car in front, Paulus swerved out of the way, entering a construction area and hitting then 33-year-old Laura Berg (nee Soto).

Berg suffered horrendous injuries, including two broken legs, a broken arm, a shattered pelvis and a fractured skull, and is still recovering from the injuries to this day.

Explaining the decision, Anoka County Attorney Tony Palumbo said that after looking at the facts, prosecutors couldn't determine that elements of a felony, namely criminal vehicular operation – great bodily harm, existed.

"That requires two elements: egregious driving conduct AND negligence. Both must be present," the attorney's office said. "If only one exists, the threshold for the felony charge cannot be met and proven beyond a reasonable doubt."

Paulus didn't lose control of her car, wasn't speeding, or under the influence, which were among several reasons that the incident didn't meet the threshold for a felony.

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The case was sent back to law enforcement, with the recommendation it be reviewed for possible misdemeanor or gross misdemeanor charges that can be issued by prosecutors in East Bethel.

"We believe there should be criminal responsibility," Palumbo said in a statement to BMTN. "But we don’t believe that we can prove the elements of a felony-level crime in this case."

"While the victim’s injuries were horrible, we have a duty to apply the law to the facts when assessing the actions of the driver," he added.

"Based on that assessment we do not believe we can prove felony-level charges beyond a reasonable doubt."

In an interview with FOX 9 on Monday, Berg says she can't forgive Paulus.

"The thing that gets me is that she hasn’t even tried to apologize," she said.

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