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Lawmaker in Fatal Crash Was Speeding, Report Says

August 21, 2003|From Associated Press

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. — Rep. William J. Janklow (R-S.D.) was driving an estimated 70 to 75 mph when he ran a stop sign and collided with a motorcycle, according to an accident report released Wednesday by the South Dakota Highway Patrol.

The speed limit on the road is 55 mph.

The report increases the likelihood of prosecutors bringing criminal charges against the former four-term governor, who has exerted enormous political power over South Dakota politics for nearly 30 years.

Highway Patrol officials said they would forward the results of the report to Moody County prosecutor William Ellingson, who would decide whether to bring charges.

Ellingson said he has no deadline for deciding any charges. "That process cannot and should not be rushed," he said.

Janklow's son Russ said Wednesday that his father was expecting to be prosecuted. Possible charges range from second-degree manslaughter to a misdemeanor such as careless driving.

The Saturday afternoon crash killed Randolph E. Scott, 55, whose Harley-Davidson collided with Janklow's Cadillac at an intersection of two paved roads near the Minnesota line.

Janklow's car spun around and ended up in a ditch. Scott was thrown from the motorcycle and landed in a soybean field; he died at the scene.

The accident report said the motorcycle was going 55 to 60 mph at the time of the crash.

According to the report, Janklow said he had to swerve to avoid another vehicle. No other vehicles are listed in the report.

The report also says neither man had been drinking.

Scott was not wearing a motorcycle helmet, but that is not required in South Dakota.

Janklow, 63, injured his head, fractured his hand and was unconscious for a short time after the crash, his son said.

Janklow had 12 speeding tickets from 1990 to October 1994.

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