Snowmobile driver gets 12.5 years in crash that killed 8-year-old on Chisago Lake

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Alan Geisenkoetter, 8, was struck by a snowmobile and later died of his injuries. 

The snowmobile driver who hit and killed eight-year-old Alan Geisenkoetter, Jr. while he was ice fishing with his family on Chisago Lake last year was sentenced to 12.5 years in prison Thursday. 

The Geisenkoetter family was ice fishing on the frozen lake when an allegedly drunk Eric Coleman plowed into their setup going nearly 60 mph. Alan was dragged across the ice about 100 feet by the snowmobile. He suffered numerous broken bones, as well as a traumatic brain injury. The family pulled him off life support five days later. 

In December, a jury found Eric Coleman guilty of third-degree murder, two counts of criminal vehicular homicide, two counts of criminal vehicular operation causing bodily harm and two counts of driving while intoxicated. 

At the sentencing Thursday, members of the Geisenkoetter family delivered their victim impact statements.

Alan’s mom, Ellie Geisenkoetter, who has been extremely private with her grief and suffering over the last year, poured her heart and soul out in her statement. It was Ellie who called 911 from the lake. She told the court she still suffers from post-traumatic stress and a broken heart. 

“Every day since the accident, I wake up with hope that I have finally woken up from this nightmare that I have been living,” she said in her statement. “Every day I walk past his room and he isn’t there, I feel an emptiness in my heart and my home and in my family. This accident has caused pain that can’t be described in words. Living every day without seeing Alan and seeing his smile or hearing him laugh makes my heart break a little more.” 

Ellie described her son as “special” and said he touched every person he met. 

“Alan was the light in our family, the center of our world,” she said. “Our home is not the same and will never be the same again. Just getting through life is a daily struggle.” 

Prosecutors argued for a 12.5-year sentence for Coleman, pointing out that he has been caught for drunk driving four times. He did not have a valid driver’s license at the time of the snowmobile crash. 

The deadly crash resulted in the Minnesota Legislature passing “Little Alan’s Law,” which took effect last August. Under the law, people convicted of driving while intoxicated in Minnesota will lose their driver’s license and be stripped of their privilege to operate boats, snowmobiles and ATVs. 

Coleman pleaded with Judge Suzanne Bollman for less prison time, but she stuck to the state sentencing guidelines, pointing out he was a repeat offender who knew exactly what he was doing by drinking and getting on a snowmobile.