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Brittany Lawonn, Published February 13 2009

No drivers to be charged in fatal South University Drive accident

FARGO – Cass County State’s Attorney Birch Burdick has declined to file charges in connection with the Dec. 10 fatal crash along South University Drive here that killed 8-year-old Amanda Leininger.

“After a careful review within my office I do not believe that criminal charges are warranted against any party based upon the information now available,” Burdick wrote in a memo declining to file charges.

Burdick notes that speed does not appear to be a factor in the crash near El Cano Drive, saying there is no information that any of the involved vehicles exceed the speed limit.

Leininger’s 15-year-old sister, Jessica, was driving the car when it collided with oncoming traffic after entering a rut located where the southbound lane meets the shoulder.

Jessica Leininger’s over-correcting as she attempted to get out of the rut is among numerous contributing factors of the accident identified in police reports. Others include roadway conditions, roadway design, time of day and limited daylight.

“There is not sufficient evidence to prove that any party committed a crime that contributed to the fatal crash,” Burdick wrote after citing the factors in his memo.

Fargo Mayor Dennis Walaker has blamed the accident on the rut, based on the initial report he received from police.

The rut was a factor in at least three accidents on the Sunday, Monday and the Tuesday before the Wednesday fatal accident, according to police records. A city street crew was en route to fix the rut when the accident happened.

For more on this story, see Saturday’s Forum.