No jail for EMT sentenced in on-duty crash that killed partner

Susanna G. Battig, 28, received a sentence that includes 40 hours of community service and $1,500 in restitution


Paul Walsh
Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

MINNEAPOLIS, Minn. — A Twin Cities ambulance driver pleaded guilty Tuesday to careless driving in connection with crashing into a disabled semitrailer truck in Brooklyn Center and killing her work partner.

Susanna G. Battig, 28, received as her sentence 40 hours of community service along with being ordered to pay nearly $1,500 in restitution and $178 in court fees for causing the October 2017 wreck that killed Marina G. DeSteno Challeen, 24, of St. Paul.

A Twin Cities ambulance driver pleaded guilty Tuesday to careless driving in connection with crashing into a disabled semitrailer truck in Brooklyn Center and killing her work partner. (Photo/HeathEast Ambulance)
A Twin Cities ambulance driver pleaded guilty Tuesday to careless driving in connection with crashing into a disabled semitrailer truck in Brooklyn Center and killing her work partner. (Photo/HeathEast Ambulance)

Confinement of 90 days in the workhouse for Battig was stayed while on a year's probation, with conditions that she complete a driver's education program within six months. She pleaded guilty to one count and had two other misdemeanor counts dismissed.

"I feel relieved that there is no jail time," said Nancy DeSteno, DeSteno Challeen's aunt. "The sentencing seems appropriate, and I believe this would be more in line with Marina's core values.

"Suzanna can give back with her time in community service. Marina saw the good in people and her heart was filled when being in service to others."

Battig, of St. Paul, made a brief statement during sentencing before Hennepin County District Judge Karen Janisch. Battig's attorney, Robert Ambrose, said later Tuesday that his client has no further comment.

The crash involving the HeathEast ambulance occurred on the evening of Oct. 9, 2017, where Interstate 694 and I-94 split in Brooklyn Center. Battig was charged with careless driving, failure to drive with due care and improper lane change.

Battig, whose last name was Kelly at the time of the crash, told authorities she was trying to exit onto eastbound I-94, realized she needed to move to the right and never saw the semi sitting on the apex with a tow truck, the criminal complaint read.

The ambulance was moving at 60 to 65 miles per hour and was between calls at the time with no patients aboard, according to law enforcement and witnesses.

Following DeSteno Challeen's autopsy in downtown Minneapolis, a long line of ambulances escorted her body to the funeral home in St. Paul. Nine days after the crash, U.S. flags at all federal and state buildings in Minnesota were flown at half-staff from sunrise to sunset in DeSteno Challeen's memory.

The declaration from Gov. Mark Dayton noted that DeSteno Challeen was "an exemplary emergency medical technician" who was "admired and respected by her colleagues."

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©2019 the Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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