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Published October 18, 2010, 02:07 PM

UPDATED: Fargo man identified as person killed in weekend crash at I-94 and University Drive

Police are investigating whether drag racing was a factor in the latest death among a flurry of fatal accidents on Fargo’s streets.

By: Patrick Springer, INFORUM

The driver in a fatal south Fargo crash has been identified as 23-year-old

Ruben Zetucha Perales of Fargo.

In a news release issued today, police identified Perales as the lone driver of a 2002 Chevrolet Impala. Perales was pronounced dead at the scene after he lost control of the vehicle, which struck a bridge support for Interstate 94 at South University Drive.

Police are investigating whether drag racing was a factor in the latest death among a flurry of fatal accidents on Fargo’s streets.

The southbound Chevy Impala was traveling at a high rate of speed when it crossed the median and struck the pillar about 1:50 a.m.

Police were investigating reports that two cars were drag racing at the time of the accident, Lt. Joel Vettel said, adding there are indications a second vehicle might have been involved in the crash.

“Whether they were drag racing, we don’t know,” he said. “That’s one of the things we’re looking at.”

Police are disturbed by the spate of fatal accidents. In less than three weeks, five people have died in four accidents, leaving grieving friends and relatives as well as makeshift memorials at the crash sites.

Fargo Police Chief Keith Ternes said police will meet early this week to review patrolling strategies to keep streets safe and deter reckless driving.

“We’re going to be very aggressive,” he said, continuing with motorcycle patrols, unmarked squad cars and heightened patrols in school zones.

The string of fatalities in such a short time is puzzling, Ternes said, noting that accidents for the first nine months of the year had decreased. The city’s last fatal traffic accident was nearly two years ago.

Officers will be analyzing the fatal accidents to see what, if any, contributing factors might link them, the chief said.

“We may find we’re just under a black cloud,” Ternes added.

At least two of the accidents, including the Sunday morning crash and another early Saturday morning that claimed the life of 17-year-old Tyler S. Tweten of Fargo, appear to have involved speed, Vettel said.

“We don’t have enough information” to determine the cause of the accident, Vettel said, in which the car Tweten was riding in slid off the street and struck a tree near the intersection of Seventh Street and 11th Avenue North.

The 16-year-old female driver and two other male passengers in the car have not been identified. Police are still interviewing those involved in the accident.

“Obviously, they were just like any other teenagers,” Vettel said. “It doesn’t appear that there was anything out of the ordinary they were doing.”

Two other recent fatal accidents involved alcohol, Vettel said.

“You can kind of see some common threads there,” he added. “That’s concerning to us.”

Officers dread having to notify relatives that a loved one has just died in an accident.

“That’s the worst aspect of any law enforcement officer’s job,” Vettel said.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Patrick Springer at (701) 241-5522

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