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Forum staff reports, Published January 08 2009

Man charged in death appears in court

HILLSBORO, N.D. – A Walcott man made his first court appearance Wednesday on a charge of negligent homicide for the July 25 death of a 72-year-old woman in a two-vehicle crash near Blanchard.

Ryan Berggren, 27, was released on $10,000 bail with a personal promise to appear in court. His next scheduled appearance is a preliminary hearing Jan. 28 in Traill County District Court in Hillsboro.

Berggren is accused of driving a semi hauling a combine on a trailer without safety lights, causing the death of Barbara Mueller of Cummings.

The North Dakota Highway Patrol said Berggren was driving the semi about 10 p.m. July 25 when it stalled on the Elm River bridge south of Blanchard on State Highway 18. He eventually got it running, and a car hit the combine’s tires on the bridge before Mueller’s Ford Explorer struck them, the patrol said.

Berggren also is charged with two counts of reckless endangerment for the crash involving the car. All three charges are felonies, each punishable by up to five years in prison and a $5,000 fine.