Investigators seek semi driver in crash that left two students dead
MOORHEAD -- A semi-truck was driving "extremely close" to a pickup before the Interstate 94 crash Tuesday morning that killed two Park Christian students, authorities said Wednesday.
MOORHEAD - A semi-truck was driving “extremely close” to a pickup before the Interstate 94 crash Tuesday morning that killed two Park Christian students, authorities said Wednesday.
Though the semi didn’t hit the pickup carrying the four Moorhead students heading to a basketball camp in Wisconsin, Minnesota State Patrol investigators want to talk to the semi driver to find out what he or she knows.
Patrol Lt. Tiffani Nielson said right now it’s too early to tell if the driver of the semi could face charges.
“It’s not a hit-and-run, so it would not be a hit-and-run charge,” Nielson said. “What we would be looking at is if they were operating in a negligent manner. If that’s the case, it could become a criminal charge. We have to do more analysis on the vehicle and the scene.”
The rollover Tuesday morning killed two brothers who were students at the Moorhead school: Zach Kvalvog, 18, and Connor, 14.
Mark Schwandt, 17, and Jimmy Morton, 18, who were also in the car, were hospitalized with injuries following the crash. Schwandt’s injuries weren’t life threatening, but Morton was in critical condition for more than 24 hours.
The condition of Morton, who is from Jackson, Miss., but is enrolling at Park Christian in the fall, was upgraded later Wednesday from critical to good, meaning vital signs including pulse, respiration rate, temperature and blood pressure are stable and within normal limits.
Funeral arrangements for the Kvalvog brothers were set Wednesday. Visitation is scheduled for 9 to 10 a.m. Monday at Bethel Church in Fargo. The funeral service is set to follow at 10 a.m.
One of the surviving passengers of the crash near the Dalton exit, a few miles southeast of Fergus Falls, told troopers a semi with a white box-type trailer and a green or red tractor was near the Dodge Ram driven by Zach Kvalvog just before the accident.
“From subsequent interviews we’ve done today, we’ve learned there was a semi in the area from a couple of different witnesses that came into close proximity of the Dodge pickup,” Nielson said Wednesday. “Our investigator went to the scene and confirmed with some of the road evidence that that really speaks to what took place.”
After Kvalvog’s pickup hit the shoulder on the north side of the road, he overcorrected to the right and then rolled into the median, the patrol has said.
“The Dodge was in the left lane, so it’s possible that the semi came into that lane alongside it,” Nielson said.
Nielson said a driver must stop if they do something that causes a crash alongside or behind them.
“At this point, we don’t know what the driver of the semi may or may not have seen, so it’s too early to state that somebody did something and left the scene of the crash. That’s why we want to talk to this driver to see what he or she might have observed or known at the time of the crash,” she said.
Sondra Taylor, Morton’s mother, told the Clarion-Ledger newspaper from Jackson, Mississippi, that the impact of the crash caused her son and another of the students to be ejected from the vehicle. She also said she was told Kvalvog had been trying to pass a semi at the time of the crash.
Anyone with information should call the Minnesota State Patrol at 218-846-8244.