Fargoan sentenced in fatal collision
A judge Friday sentenced a Fargo man to two years in prison for driving drunk and causing an accident that left his best friend dead. Twenty-year-old Seth Linstaedt could be Fargo-Moorhead's "poster child" for the dangers of underage drinking, Ea...
A judge Friday sentenced a Fargo man to two years in prison for driving drunk and causing an accident that left his best friend dead.
Twenty-year-old Seth Linstaedt could be Fargo-Moorhead's "poster child" for the dangers of underage drinking, East Central District Judge Georgia Dawson said before sentencing him.
"This community struggles with underage drinking all the time," Dawson said. "It's a very sad situation."
Linstaedt, 3601 11th St. S., drove a speeding car into a charter bus about 6 a.m. Oct. 10. He fled while his friend and roommate, Arthur Duchene, remained in the wreckage, Assistant State's Attorney Mark Boening said.
Duchene, a 23-year-old nurse assistant, was taken to MeritCare Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Linstaedt, standing alongside his attorney, Richard Edinger, offered a short apology to Duchene's family.
He told Dawson that he and Duchene attended a house party hours before the crash and that he drank "too much."
Linstaedt pleaded guilty to two felonies: manslaughter and leaving the scene of an accident resulting in death. He also pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges of driving under the influence of alcohol and driving without liability insurance.
Soon after the fatal crash, Fargo resident Randy Bye told police he was driving south in the 1100 block of Fourth Street South when a car passed him traveling between 80 and 90 mph, court records say.
The street's speed limit is 25 mph.
Linstaedt hit the brakes just before reaching the intersection of 13th Avenue South, where his Ford Taurus slammed into the side of a Jefferson Lines bus.
No one was injured on the bus, carrying 18 people to Fargo from Sioux Falls, S.D.
Linstaedt left on foot, then hitched a ride to his apartment.
Inside the crushed car, police found unopened beer cans and Linstaedt's driver's license.
They found Linstaedt at his apartment about 10 a.m. and escorted him to MeritCare for a blood-alcohol test.
When he refused to provide a blood sample, officers tracked down a judge and got a court order.
By then, nearly seven hours passed since the accident but Linstaedt's blood-alcohol level registered .07, Boening said.
Under North Dakota law, anyone with a blood-alcohol level of .10 or higher cannot legally drive.
Edinger asked Dawson not to sentence his client to more than a year in prison.
"Unlike most defendants, your honor, he is being a man and taking responsibility," Edinger said.
"He killed his best friend and he'll have to live with that consequence for the rest of his life," Edinger said. "He is very remorseful."
But Boening said Linstaedt hasn't always taken responsibility.
"When it looked like his friend may be hurt, he ran away," Boening said.
Boening recommended that Linstaedt serve three years in prison.
"He was driving at a very high rate of speed and he killed somebody," he said. "I don't think we should minimize the death."
Readers can reach Forum reporter Jeff Zent at (701) 241-5526