Driver sentenced in fatal Oakdale crash following law enforcement pursuit

Judge gavel, scales of justice and law books in court. (Brian A. Jackson/South Florida Sun Sentinel) (Getty Images)

A Wadena driver was sentenced on Monday for causing a deadly crash while fleeing law enforcement in July 2021. 

Scott David Hardy, 36, entered a guilty plea in February to one count of fleeing a peace officer in a motor vehicle resulting in death in the crash that killed 80-year-old Shirley Bilden. He faced additional charges of receiving stolen property and attempted theft, but they were dropped as part of the plea agreement. 

A Washington County judge sentenced Hardy on Monday to 166 months (13.8 years) with credit for two years and 273 days served. 

"The reckless actions of Mr. Hardy that day led to devastating consequences, and justice demands accountability," said Washington County Attorney Kevin Magnuson in a statement. "Our hearts are with Shirley’s family and friends as they navigate the aftermath of this senseless loss."

According to court records, authorities responded to a report of a stolen car parked in Cub Foods parking lot in Oakdale. Law enforcement told Hardy to put his hands up, but he fled the parking lot, and authorities initiated a pursuit. 

Charges say Hardy was driving over 70 mph in residential areas and drove through yards. The pursuit was terminated for safety reasons, and shortly after, law enforcement said Hardy ran a red light and crashed into another vehicle, driven by an 80-year-old woman.

 Authorities saw a "plume of white smoke" in the distance, and charges said two vehicles had sustained severe damage. 

"I can’t believe he left me here to die," Bilden said of Hardy, who had left the scene. The woman sustained significant injuries and later died at the hospital, according to court records. 

Hardy went into a nearby cemetery and tried to steal another vehicle, but citizens helped detain him until law enforcement arrived. 

Hardy will serve his prison sentence at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in St. Cloud.