FARGO — A woman accused of running over a local chef in downtown Fargo failed to appear in court Monday, July 13, and now finding her may be left to bounty hunters, according to the Cass County State’s Attorney’s Office.
Pryscilla Shantyl Littleswallow, 31, reportedly ran over Joe Swegarden at about 2 a.m. Aug. 12, 2018, at Sixth Avenue North and Roberts Street, according to court documents. She pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of aggravated reckless driving, but was scheduled to change her plea Monday.
Littleswallow’s $10,000 cash bail has been revoked, and the Cass County State’s Attorney's Office and even her own lawyer, Mark Beauchene, do not know where she is.
“No doubt the bail bondsman will send his people out, or contract with a bounty hunter to try and track her down. And we know from public records that she’s failed to show up in court before,” Assistant Cass County State’s Attorney Ryan Younggren said after the hearing.
Nearly two years after the incident occurred, the victim Swegarden will never be the same after suffering severe head injuries, his family said. Swegarden was a well known chef who worked locally at Maxwells and Blackbird Woodfire restaurants, and was featured in a New York Times article in 2016 about his work at Gramercy Tavern in New York City.
Swegarden’s family is frustrated because for nearly two years, Littleswallow has evaded the law, father Jon Swegarden said.
“We came here for some closure, but this is two years in August,” Jon Swegarden said. “Driving a car that’s not registered, give the police false information, and you run over a human being, and here we are, two years later.”
“This case, as everyone knows, has been very difficult for the family when the victim was run over by a vehicle and suffered a traumatic brain injury that he hasn’t recovered from,” Younggren said in court. “This case has taken a long time, so there is a lot of consternation about it taking a long time.”
Beauchene said in court that he's spent “a lot of time working on this case …. I’ve left messages with her and was hoping to speak directly to her mother who is here today, but I’ve received no response from my client.”
A woman who identified herself as Littleswallow’s mother told Swegarden’s family that her daughter was “up with her dad who has stage 4 cancer. Littleswallow’s mother told The Forum, "I’m not going to talk about this because it has to go to trial."
“Tell her to take some accountability for her actions,” a family member yelled after Littleswallow’s mother after the hearing. “Send a bounty hunter after her.”
“Actually, that’s where we are at,” Younggren said. “It’s awfully hard for us to get people back in situations like this.”
In 2018, the collision that injured Swegarden pulled at community heartstrings, prompting support and events like A Show for Joe that drew musical talent and culinary artists from around the region.
“Dude always got a smile on his face and nothing but positive vibes and big hugs,” a friend, Paul Nielson, said. “Honestly, one of the most genuine good people I know. Always a pleasure to work or just hang out for a beer.”
According to the incident report, “Witnesses stated the driver accelerated, struck Joe, causing him to fall and go under the vehicle. Witnesses stated the driver reversed over Joe, got out of her vehicle and looked at Joe on the ground. Multiple witnesses stated the suspect said ‘It’s not my fault,’ then got back into her vehicle and fled."
Later, Littleswallow told police that she left because she was "scared of all the people yelling at her," according to the report. Detectives performed sobriety tests, and Littleswallow did not show any signs of impairment, the report said.