Manslaughter through bad upkeep

An affidavit submitted by North Dakota Highway Patrol Trooper Rodney Torgeson to back up a manslaughter complaint against the trucker at fault in a major crash points to problems with the trailer attached to the semi, and the trucker’s claim of not remembering the event.

The affidavit and complaint were filed in Northwest District Court in Minot Monday.

Clark Christensen, 57, Shelley, Idaho, claims that he saw the yellow warning lights alerting drivers to stop at the intersection of U.S. Highway 2 and the U.S. Highway 83 Bypass near Minot but forgets everything after that until he woke up in the hospital. Elsewhere, the affidavit says he told a different trooper that he saw the red lights as he crested the hill.

Christensen also admits to having smoked marijuana a week prior to the incident but had not consumed alcohol that night.

Of the vehicle, an inspection performed at Olson’s Towing in Minot shows that the trailer brakes were not connected properly and that many wires and other connectors were not adjusted properly.

Christensen said that since he had other people help him attach the trailer at a lot in east Minot, he did not do the proper testing of the trailer himself but did make sure the lights worked.

Witnesses at the scene, though, say they did not see any brake lights on Christensen’s vehicle at all as the vehicle came “barreling through the intersection” “at full speed.” There were also no skidmarks found that would indicate that the brakes were applied.

Christensen’s truck slammed into the rear of a 2009 Subaru driven by Megan Shoal, 21, Plentywood, Mont., who was waiting for a green light in the left driving lane.

Her car was crushed between Christensen’s semi and another driven by Mario Hill, 54, Idaho Falls, Idaho, causing damage to Shoal’s vehicle so extensive “as to render it unrecognizable.”

Together, the two semis, with Shoal’s vehicle smashed between, pushed through the intersection causing damage and injury to other vehicles.

Shoal, who had just finished her third year at Minot State University, suffered major head injuries and was pronounced dead at the scene.

A warrant for the arrest of Christensen for the Class B felony charge of manslaughter was issued Monday.