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Dave Roepke, Published November 16 2010

Fatal crash reports in prosecutors’ hands

Prosecutors have police reports on all four of the fatal crashes in which five people died in Fargo earlier this fall and will be making decisions on charges soon.

Cass County State’s Attorney Birch Burdick said he plans to have prosecutors study all of the reports at the same time so any charges that may be filed are considered in context of the other cases.

“I want to see them all lined up on the table at once,” Burdick said.

Burdick said prosecutors will also consider previous practices in similar cases when deciding if charges are warranted in any of the string of traffic fatalities.

The five deaths in traffic accidents in Fargo in late September and October are the city’s only fatal crashes in the past two years.

Cheri Clark, an assistant Cass County state’s attorney, said the decisions on whether to file charges will be made “in the near future.”

Here are the details on the four fatal accidents that were under investigation:

Sept. 30

Salih and Merlina Ibralic died after the motorcycle they were driving struck a First United Methodist bus as the church bus tried to turn into the parking lot for the Carlson Library along 32nd Avenue South.

The bus driver was Kathleen Johnson, 51, of Fargo. Police have said speed may have been a factor.

Sgt. Joe Anderson said a report on the crash was sent to prosecutors Monday. Further details were not immediately available.

Oct. 8

Marcus Bearstail, a 51-year-old of Fargo, died after being struck by a car as he was crossing 13th Avenue South between 40th Street and 42nd Street. Police say he had a blood-alcohol level three to four times the legal limit for driving.

Anderson has previously said he doesn’t expect the driver, Zachory Friesz, to face criminal charges.

Oct. 16

Tyler Tweten, a 17-year-old junior at Fargo South, died after a car driven by a 16-year-old girl hit a tree at 11th Avenue North and Seventh Street. Police have said the driver could face charges.

Burdick said that report has been forwarded to the office’s juvenile division.

Oct. 17

Police say Ruben Perales, 23, was driving between 93 mph and 108 mph when he struck a pillar and died at the Interstate 94 underpass on South University Drive.

Police could not confirm reports that there was a second car that was racing Perales, Anderson said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Dave Roepke at (701) 241-5535