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Forum staff reports, Published March 05 2009

Walcott man pleads not guilty in fatal crash

HILLSBORO, N.D. – A Walcott man pleaded not guilty Wednesday to 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, waived his preliminary hearing and entered the not guilty plea in Traill County District Court in Hillsboro, said State’s Attorney Stuart Larson.

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 state 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. Berggren eventually got it running, and a car hit the combine’s tires on the bridge before Mueller’s Ford Explorer struck the tires, the patrol said.

Berggren faces 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.

Berggren was previously released on $10,000 bail with a personal promise to appear in court.