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Published July 18 2012

Driver in crash that killed West Fargo family was three times over legal limit

JAMESTOWN, N.D. – The driver of a pickup truck that was going the wrong way on Interstate 94 when it crashed head-on into a West Fargo family’s car, killing all three people inside, had a blood alcohol concentration more than three times the legal limit of 0.08 percent for driving, the North Dakota Highway Patrol said Wednesday.

A blood sample from 28-year-old Wyatt Daniel Klein of Jamestown showed he had a BAC of 0.25 percent, the patrol said in a news release.

Klein died in the crash, which happened at 7:18 p.m. July 6 about 33 miles west of Jamestown.

Aaron Deutscher, 34, his pregnant 36-year-old wife, Allison, and their 18-month-old daughter, Brielle, were in the other vehicle and died in the accident.

Patrol Sgt. Tom Herzig said the lead investigator on the accident, Trooper Craig Beedy, continues to work daily on the crash reconstruction and expects to complete it by the end of this week or next week.

The Highway Patrol previously said alcohol was a factor in the crash, and that troopers smelled alcohol on Klein and in his 1994 Chevy pickup.

Aaron Deutscher’s father, Tom Deutscher, said Wednesday that family members are still waiting to receive the full toxicology report on Klein to see if he had any substances in his system besides alcohol.

“We’re at the beginning stages of picking up what shattered lives we have,” he said.

Tom Deutscher said his family isn’t against drinking alcohol.

“But it’s a family that says absolutely don’t drink and drive,” he said. “You can’t do it, because this is the result.”

The Highway Patrol said 51 percent of all fatal crashes in North Dakota this year have been attributed to alcohol.

As The Forum reported last week, court records in North Dakota and Minnesota show Klein had a history of drinking and driving, drug violations and other offenses. His record includes at least three convictions related to underage drinking and driving, five for driving with a suspended license and one for having marijuana in a vehicle as a driver. Most recently, in February 2011, he pleaded guilty to DUI in Sedan, Minn.

Klein’s parents did not return messages seeking comment on Wednesday.

As area director at the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration office in Bismarck, Tom Deutscher said he has spoken to “countless” mothers of people who’ve died in preventable workplace accidents, trying to answer their questions.

“And I share those now,” he said. “I have questions, and there are absolutely no answers.

“This is now my son, and it was just absolutely needless,” he said.


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