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Kevin Bonham, Forum Communications Co., Published July 23 2010

92-year-old drops challenge of $20 ticket

The 92-year-old Oberon, N.D., woman who received a $20 traffic ticket in connection with a May 19 fatal car-motorcycle accident is dropping her legal challenge.

Faith Mitzel “no longer request(s) an administrative traffic hearing in this matter,” attorney Scott Sandness, said in a letter to Benson County State’s Attorney James Wang. The hearing had been scheduled for Monday.

Sheri Leidholt, 30, died May 20 at a Fargo hospital as the result of the accident, according to the North Dakota Highway Patrol.

Leidholt, who was pregnant at the time, was a passenger on a motorcycle operated by her husband, James Leidholt, 37, Devils Lake. The driver of the other motorcycle, Jason Hunter, 33, also of Devils Lake, had a foot amputated as a result of the accident.

The highway patrol said Mitzel’s southbound 2000 Oldsmobile crossed the center line of N.D. Highway 57 and struck two northbound motorcycles around dusk on May 19. The traffic citation indicated she “drove on left half of roadway in not overtaking.”

Mitzel had claimed after the accident that the Highway Patrol’s investigation was wrong, that she had not crossed the centerline.

“Our investigation indicated she did cross the centerline,” said Capt. Kyle Ternes, of the Highway Patrol in Devils Lake. “There was no excessive speed on anyone’s behalf. The motorcyclists were all in the proper lane. And there was no alcohol involved.”

Hunter was cited for operating a motorcycle without liability insurance.

James Leidholt was cited for not having a motorcycle-class operator’s license.

After the accident, the Highway Patrol made a request to the North Dakota Department of Transportation’s licensing and registration division to order Mitzel to retake a driving test. NDDOT suspended her license on June 2.

“That’s a fine result,” Wang said.

Kevin Bonham is a reporter at the Grand Forks Herald