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REGIONAL BRIEFS: ATV crash injures girl; man charged with DWI

Credit: Forum News Service

North Dakota

Truck driver given jail time for fatal crash

FARGO - A Long Prairie, Minn., truck driver will serve about two months in jail after pleading guilty to misdemeanor aggravated reckless driving in a fatal crash with a motorcycle last summer i.

James Toner, 56, was sentenced Monday in Cass County District Court to a one-year sentence with all but 75 days suspended, as part of a plea deal in which prosecutors dropped the original charge of Class B felony manslaughter. He was given credit for nine days already served in jail.

Judge Frank Racek ordered toner to two years of supervised probation, adding that Toner can't have a commercial driver's license as part of his probation terms.

Toner admitted in court that he had made an improper right-hand turn June 4 with his semi heading left across three lanes of traffic at the intersection of 25th Street South and 23rd Avenue.

The maneuver made the semi-trailer "a steel wall" in front of 29-year-old Jason Viestenz's motorcycle, said Assistant Cass County State's Attorney Cherie Clark.

The motorcycle struck the semi, killing Viestenz - who was not wearing a helmet - and injuring his 10-year-old son, Elijah, a passenger who was wearing a helmet.



ATV crash injures girl; man charged with DWI

COSMOS, Minn. -- A 5-year-old girl was seriously injured Sunday in an ATV accident near Cosmos and a rural Darwin man is in jail on charges of second-degree driving while impaired and criminal vehicular operation resulting in injury.

According to the Meeker County Sheriff's Office, the accident happened about 3 p.m. Sunday at the Thompson Lake County Park west of Cosmos

A caller stated that a man, later identified as Michael Vollmer, 30, was attempting to drive an ATV up a steep embankment and the 2001 Yamaha 4-wheeler rolled over backwards onto the driver and a 5-year-old passenger.

According to the sheriff's report, the caller tried to help the child, but Vollmer took her away on the ATV.

Cosmos Ambulance transported the child from her grandparents home in Cosmos to the Meeker Memorial Hospital in Litchfield. She was later airlifted to the Children's Hospital in Minneapolis with life-threatening injuries.

Neither the child nor Vollmer were wearing helmets.

Vollmer is a friend of the child's father, according to the report.

Vollmer is being held at the Meeker County Jail.


Former guard sentenced for sex with inmate

GRAND RAPIDS, Minn. -- A former corrections officer was sentenced Monday to more than five years in jail on charges he had sex with an inmate at a Minnesota facility,

James Allen Bongaarts, 57, of Tower, Minn., was sentenced in Itasca County District Court to 65 months in jail, a release from the county attorney's office said. In March, Bongaarts plead guilty to two counts of criminal sexual conduct in the third degree. Bongaarts was charged with engaging in multiple acts of sexual misconduct over two months with a female inmate while he was employed as a corrections officer at the Minnesota Correctional Facility in Togo, Minn.

In addition to the jail time, Bongaarts also must provide a DNA sample, register as a predatory offender and be subject to a lifetime conditional release. He was placed in custody immediately after Monday's hearing.



School arson suspect likely to use insanity plea

HUDSON, Wis. -- The man accused of setting fire to a Roberts school will likely enter a not guilty by reason of insanity plea, his attorney said Monday.

During a brief hearing Monday afternoon, St. Croix County Judge Eric Lundell found probable cause to believe that a felony was committed and probable cause that Justin Walter Nelson, 24, Roberts, committed the crime and bound him over for trial.

Investigator Brent Standaert, the lone witness at the hearing, testified that Nelson admitted during an interview that he was in St. Croix Central Elementary School on April 30 and stole cameras from classrooms.

Standaert also said that during a call recorded on a jail phone, Nelson said he had probably set fires in the school to prevent police from discovering the thefts. The investigator agreed that Nelson hadn't directly said he started the fires but that was implied.

Attorney Daniel Chapman said he expects his client to offer an insanity plea at some point.

Arraignment is set for May 30.

There was enough damage to the school to make it unusable for the rest of the school year.