See more of the story

A Dakota County grand jury on Thursday indicted a 20-year-old Rosemount woman in connection with a head-on crash that killed a woman and two small children in Inver Grove Heights in 2008.

Brittany Rose Mertz was allegedly not looking at the road when her car, northbound on Hwy. 52, crossed the center line near 117th Street and hit another car head-on.

The grand jury indicted Mertz, formerly known by her maiden name of Brittany Krueger, on seven counts, including criminal vehicular homicide, in the deaths of the other driver, Brittany Carlson, 30, of Zumbrota; her 2-year-old son, Brandon Dion-Faris Carlson, who died two weeks after the accident; and Tamaya Rose Phillips, 4, of Rosemount, who died the day after the collision. She was the daughter of Nicole Phillips and Claude Washington.

Two other children in the Carlson car survived injuries. One was Carlson's son, Tyler Becker, who was 9 at the time, and Tamaya's 2-year-old brother, Claude Washington. Mertz and a passenger in her car were not hurt.

"One witness reported to officers that as he was approaching Ms. Krueger's vehicle from the rear and in the adjoining lane, he observed the passenger in her front seat showing something to Ms. Krueger, and that they may have been passing something back and forth," according to a statement from the Dakota County Attorney's Office.

The witness said the car swerved into an adjoining lane, then swerved back, before finally veering across the median and into oncoming traffic, the statement said.

Mertz was indicted on three counts of criminal vehicular homicide with gross negligence, which is punishable by up to 10 years in prison and a fine ranging from $6,000 to $20,000 for each count.

She also was indicted on a fourth felony -- criminal vehicular operation causing substantial harm, punishable with up to three years in prison and a fine up to $10,000 -- and three misdemeanors.

The accident happened about 5:45 p.m. on April 17, 2008. Brittany Carlson was not wearing a seatbelt, and the children were not properly restrained, though Brandon was buckled into a booster seat, which was designed for older children, according to the State Patrol.

Mertz appeared in court Thursday, and Chief Judge Edward Lynch released her on her own recognizance.

Joy Powell • 952-882-9017