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Published June 19 2012

Motorcyclist in Fargo semi crash dies

FARGO – A Fargo man who suffered severe head trauma on June 4 when his motorcycle collided with a semi truck in south Fargo died in a hospital Tuesday, according to police and his CaringBridge website.

Lt. Joel Vettel said Fargo police were informed Tuesday morning that 29-year-old Jason Viestenz died at Essentia Health, where he had been in critical condition since the crash on 25th Street South near Interstate 94.

In a journal entry Tuesday afternoon on the CaringBridge website, the unidentified author wrote that the recovering father’s death was a “very unexpected turn of events.”

“I can’t put into words what the family went through yesterday and into this morning,” the journal entry said. “Jason’s body was unable to endure the ICP (intracranial pressure), resting heart rate and blood pressure he was experiencing. We were all able to take some time with him and say goodbye.

“Jason regretfully passed away early this morning surrounded by family,” it continued. “Thank you very much for all your prayers and well wishes. It meant more to the family than you know.”

Viestenz’s 10-year-old son, Elijah Viestenz, was a passenger on the bike when it collided with the semi. The boy was wearing a helmet, but his father was not, police said. Elijah was treated and released with minor cuts and bruises, the journal said.

Police said both vehicles were heading south on 25th Street when the crash occurred. The semi, being trailed by an oversized-load warning vehicle, had swung to the left to create clearance to make a right-hand turn when the motorcycle moved into the right lane, passed the warning vehicle and collided with the passenger-side front quarter panel of the turning semi, Vettel has said.

The truck’s driver, James T. Toner, 55, of Long Prairie, Minn., was not injured.

Vettel said the crash remains under investigation, and no one has been cited or charged. Officials are considering citations for equipment violations related to the semi, “but it doesn’t appear they have any bearing on the accident,” he said.

Viestenz suffered multiple facial and lower skull fractures in the crash, the CaringBridge journal says. Doctors placed him in a medically induced coma.

In a journal entry posted Sunday evening, the author noted the neurologist was “very positive about where Jason is at in his recovery.” The writer also wished Viestenz a Happy Father’s Day.

“Eli is a strong, caring and compassionate little man and he gets those traits from his father,” the journal said. “I know Jason is fighting everyday to get back to him. I often joke with Jason that he was put on this earth to be a dad, and a darn good one!”

Elijah turned 11 last week, the journal states.

Attempts to reach family members for comment were unsuccessful.

A benefit fund for Viestenz’s family is set up at the United Savings Credit Union in Fargo. Donations may be made to the Jason Viestenz Benefit.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Mike Nowatzki at (701) 241-5528