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Lawmaker in Crash Could Face Charges

August 20, 2003|From Associated Press

TRENT, S.D. — A prosecutor said Tuesday that U.S. Rep. William J. Janklow probably ran a stop sign before a deadly crash with a motorcyclist at a rural intersection, setting up the possibility that criminal charges could be brought against the South Dakota political icon.

Moody County State's Atty. William Ellingson will review a report being compiled by the Highway Patrol and decide whether to charge Janklow. Potential charges include second-degree manslaughter and careless driving.

Investigators still have not determined how fast Janklow was driving when his Cadillac collided with a Harley-Davidson on Saturday, killing Randolph Scott, 55, who was on his way home from his father-in-law's 80th birthday party.

Ellingson said preliminary reports indicate the former governor went through the intersection without stopping. The car traveled about 300 feet after impact, he said.

Capt. Jeff Talbot of the Highway Patrol said authorities have recovered the car's "black box," or event data recorder, which collects information such as the vehicle's speed and braking status at the time of impact. Such boxes have been installed in General Motors cars since 1999.

Janklow, 63, hurt his right hand and suffered a head injury. A member of Janklow's staff, Chris Braendlin, was traveling with him but was not injured.

The Republican congressman was on his way home to Brandon after attending an event in Aberdeen.

Scott, who was not wearing a helmet, did not have a stop sign at his intersection. The motorcycle hit the southbound car's passenger door on the driver's side, right behind Janklow.

Janklow has wielded enormous political power in South Dakota for the last 30 years. He served as attorney general from 1974 to 1978 before being elected to the first of four terms as governor. He was governor from 1979 to 1986 and from 1995 to 2002 before being elected to the state's lone House seat last year.

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