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Forum staff reports, Published May 03 2013

VIDEO: Driver cited after Mercedes crashes through Cass jail’s front doors

FARGO – The Cass County Sheriff’s Office will likely install bollards or planters as a barrier in front of the county jail after a 59-year-old man crashed a car through the facility’s front doors Friday, the second such incident in recent years.

Capt. Judy Tollefson, who oversees the jail at 450 34th St. S., said the driver of the Mercedes came to the jail for his court-ordered, twice-daily Breathalyzer test as part of the 24/7 sobriety program, “and somehow ended up in our foyer.” The crash happened about 6:45 a.m.

Authorities were still investigating what led to the crash, which had no witnesses. A couple of jailers who had gone outside to start their vehicles heard the crash and went to investigate, Tollefson said.

Fargo police identified the driver as Thomas S. Siavash, 59, of Fargo. He was cited for reckless driving and driving under suspension, both Class B misdemeanors punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine, Deputy Police Chief Pat Claus said.

Siavash’s driver’s license was originally suspended as a result of an arrest for driving under the influence in Fargo on Feb. 26, Claus said. Alcohol wasn’t believed to be a contributing factor in Friday’s crash, and there was no evidence to suggest it was an intentional act, he said.

Sgt. Tara Morris, spokeswoman for the Sheriff’s Office, said it didn’t appear to first responders that Siavash had been drinking, and a Breathalyzer administered by Fargo police to Siavash at the crash scene came back negative for alcohol.

Siavash was taken by ambulance to a hospital to be checked out. It’s unclear whether he had any injuries, but Fargo Deputy Police Chief Dave Todd said Siavash was awake at the hospital, where police interviewed him.

Because of the strange nature of the incident, the Red River Valley Regional Bomb Squad was called to the scene to ensure the car was safe before it was pulled out of the foyer, Morris said. A bomb squad robot searched the car and found nothing suspicious, and the car was towed to the police department’s accident lot, Todd said.

Todd said the probe into how the crash happened will include looking at whether the car may have experienced a mechanical failure and talking to Siavash’s doctors about his medical condition.

It’s not the first time someone has crashed through the jail doors. Tollefson said a similar incident happened about five years ago.

Officials at that time discussed installing bollards or planters to create a barrier to vehicles in front of the jail, and Friday’s incident reignited that discussion, Morris said.

“Obviously it’s going to be a higher priority,” she said. “It’s a necessity now.”

Friday’s incident wrecked the doors and may have damaged the door frame, but otherwise there was no apparent damage, Morris said. A repair estimate wasn’t available yet.


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