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A truck driver failed to slow for highway traffic backed up ahead and triggered a chain-reaction crash in Plymouth last summer that killed another motorist, according to charges.

Pheng Yang, 41, of Brooklyn Park, was charged Thursday in Hennepin County District Court with criminal vehicular homicide alleging gross negligence in connection with the three-vehicle collision late in the afternoon of July 30 on Hwy. 169 just north of Hwy. 55 that killed Cristina Maria Restrepo, 40, of Plymouth.

Yang was charged by summons and is due on court on June 3. Court records do not list an attorney for him.

In an interview Friday with the Star Tribune, he said, "I did not see any brake lights. If I would have seen [any], I would have braked." He said he couldn't say why others' brake lights weren't visible, but he noted that he was approaching the crest of a hill shortly before the crash.

Yang added that at the time of impact he was listening to a YouTube story on his phone through a wireless speaker. He said his screen was dark, and he was not distracted by his phone.

However, the criminal complaint said he remembered looking at his phone before the crash and trying to change the clock in his box truck. He also recalled looking at his phone at 4:09 p.m., "which is exactly when he crashed into" the car ahead, the complaint continued, citing traffic surveillance video.

Law enforcement seized Yang's phone, "and it appeared to have some internet activity on it, but it is undetermined if [he] was actively using it at the time of the crash."

According to the complaint, referencing traffic surveillance video, and the State Patrol:

Traffic on southbound Hwy. 169 was slowed to a near stop in both lanes because of an earlier crash ahead. Yang, driving at a high rate of speed, struck Restrepo's nearly stopped car. Her vehicle then hit an SUV ahead of her.

Restrepo was taken by emergency responders to North Memorial Health Hospital, where she was pronounced dead soon afterward. Yang and two occupants in the SUV were slightly injured.

The patrol calculated that Yang was traveling 50 to 59 miles per hour just before impact, while Restrepo's car was going less than 10 mph, and the SUV only slightly faster than hers.