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Forum staff reports, Published December 23 2008

Driver in fatal crash appears

The driver of a pickup truck involved in an Aug. 3 fatal accident that killed a Fargo man made her first court appearance Monday in Minnewaukan, N.D.

Malorie Jo O’Connell, 25, of Fargo, was previously charged with leaving the scene of an accident involving death or personal injury, a felony, as well as a misdemeanor charge of aggravated reckless driving and an infraction for failure to give immediate notice.

The infraction was dismissed during Monday’s hearing before District Court Judge Donovan Foughty, said Lana Johnson, clerk of district court for Benson County.

A preliminary hearing on the felony charge was slated for Jan. 23, Johnson said.

The North Dakota Highway Patrol said O’Connell was driving to a rural Minnewaukan farm about 1 a.m. when she lost control of her pickup on old Highway 281 and it went into Devils Lake.

O’Connell swam to shore, and a search team later found the body of her passenger, 25-year-old Abraham Wilson of Fargo, in the water, according to the patrol.

O’Connell reported the accident from a nearby farm more than four hours later, at 5:13 a.m., the patrol said.

O’Connell remains free on her own personal recognizance, Johnson said.