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Morning headlines: Minnesota DOT makes changes to I-94 construction project following deadly crash there

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Here is your InForum Minute for Tuesday, July 19.

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Emergency responders and investigators respond to a crash on I-94 in Moorhead Friday afternoon, July 15.
Steve Elwell / WDAY

MOORHEAD — After a fatal accident that killed three and another resulting in serious injuries on Interstate 94 in and near Moorhead late last week, a work zone change, as well as an investigation are underway.

Minnesota Department of Transportation District Highway Engineer Shiloh Wahl said Monday, July 18, that due to recent accidents, a previously closed lane has been reopened, along with the installation of Jersey barriers along the median to protect workers.

Lane closures will continue in the eastbound lanes, however, until the guard rail replacement is completed either later this week or early next week, Wahl said, noting crews need access for construction. Full story here.

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Texas man crashed into vehicle in West Fargo police chase, injured several people, authorities say

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Matthew Garcia
Courtesy of Cass County Jail

WEST FARGO — A Texas man who fled police late Friday, July 15, in West Fargo crashed into another vehicle during a police chase and injured several people , according to a news release.

West Fargo police responded around 11:30 p.m. Friday for a report of reckless driving in a parking lot at the Red River Valley Fair, the news release said. The driver, later identified as 32-year-old Matthew Garcia of Amarillo, Texas, fled from officers and drove through a red light at 15th Street West onto Main Avenue, police alleged.

Garcia then rear-ended a vehicle that was stopped on Main Avenue at a red light at Sheyenne Street, according to a criminal complaint. The vehicle hit caught fire, trapping a 6-year-old child inside, the complaint said. Full story here.

Minnesota DNR wants Moorhead child drowning lawsuit dismissed

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The empty swimming pond at Buffalo River State Park on Thursday, July 14, 2022.
David Samson/The Forum

MOORHEAD — The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources wants a judge to dismiss a lawsuit that claims the agency is responsible for the 2018 drowning of a Moorhead girl.

An Aug. 8 jury trial in Freedom Kerkula’s case was canceled after the DNR requested Judge Gail Kulick rule that the agency is immune from liability for the death of Kerkula’s daughter, Grace Bettie. The 9-year-old drowned June 27, 2018, in a crowded swimming pond at Buffalo River State Park near Glyndon during a Moorhead Police Department summer youth program.

A hearing for attorneys to make their arguments on the motion is scheduled for Aug. 16.

Prosecutors in Clay County declined to pursue criminal charges in the case. Kerkula filed the wrongful death lawsuit in August 2019 in Clay County District Court. Full story here.

Spokeswoman resigns over deletion of late North Dakota AG's email account

North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem.
North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem.
Forum News Service file photo

BISMARCK — A longtime spokeswoman and assistant for late North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem asked an information technology employee to delete her former boss's email account a day after his death.

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The spokeswoman, Liz Brocker, resigned her post with the office on Friday, July 15. Forum News Service obtained her resignation letter on Monday, July 18.

Attorney General Drew Wrigley told Forum News Service on Friday a "nonsupervisory, non-attorney employee" was responsible for deleting state email accounts belonging to Stenehjem and former Deputy Attorney General Troy Seibel. At the time, Wrigley declined to name the employee who deleted the accounts. Full story here.

Red River Valley Fair breaks attendance record for 2nd year in a row

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The full moon rises over the Red River Valley Fair on Wednesday, July 13, 2022. The Buck Moon, also called the Thunder Moon, was the largest supermoon of 2022.
David Samson / The Forum

WEST FARGO — The Red River Valley Fair saw record-breaking attendance numbers this year. It's the second year in a row the fair managed to break the record.

Last year, 137,000 people went to the fair. Red River Valley Fair Association CEO Cody Cashman said they beat that record by about 2,000, with around 139,0000 people making their way to the fair over its 10-day run. Full story here.

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