Dickinson woman killed in crash; school officials, parents share concerns about speed, safety of road near school that was hitDickinson resident Althea Mandan died from injuries she sustained in a McKenzie County auto accident that sent a semi through a school Monday, according to a release from the North Dakota Highway Patrol.
By: Bryan Horwath, The Dickinson Press
School officials, parents share concerns about speed, safety of road near school that was hit
By Bryan Horwath
Dickinson resident Althea Mandan died from injuries she sustained in a McKenzie County auto accident that sent a semi through a school Monday, according to a release from the North Dakota Highway Patrol.
Three students and a teacher from Johnson Corners Christian Academy and semi driver Jason Owen of Watford City, were treated and released from McKenzie County Hospital following the accident.
Mandan failed to yield the right of way to Owen’s truck at 12:05 p.m. at the intersection of highways 23 and 73, according to the HP. After colliding with Mandan’s 2003 Pontiac Grand Prix, the semi slammed into an area of classrooms at the small, rural school, sending students and teachers running for safety. Seventeen students and seven teachers were present at the school during the crash.
School officials and parents said they have expressed concern in the past over the dangers of the intersection, frequented by large trucks traveling a main oil boom route.
“We witness near accidents every day,” JCCA Principal Adrian Timmons said. “We hear tires screeching, we see a lot of near-misses. I sat face-to-face with someone from the (North Dakota Department of Transportation) in Bismarck last year and told them this is a dangerous intersection.”
The DOT, however, has never received a written request for a speed study, said Jamie Olson of the department’s communication division.
“Local authorities can request a speed study to be conducted for an area of state highway they think needs to be considered for raising or lowering of the speed limit,” Olson said. “The DOT has not received any formal requests for a speed study at the intersection of ND highways 23 and 73.”
The intersection is a two-way stop with a posted speed limit of 65 mph. In recent years, the DOT has added rumble strips and “more signs,” said Olson, but it’s unclear as to why no formal request was submitted.
The DOT installed the added additional safety precautions after a previous accident and a “conversation with local school officials over the past few years,” according to a DOT statement.
“There are school zone signs up,” Timmons said. “But there’s nothing for speed reduction and that’s the important thing. If this is what needs to happen for a change to be made, then so be it. If that accident had happened five minutes earlier, there would have been students in that area and we would have lost a dozen kids.”
Following impact with Mandan’s car, the 2012 Kenworth semi operated by Owen went up an embankment, through a chain link fence and traveled some 60 feet into the school.
Timmons said Tuesday he was in the process of securing a temporary trailer for the JCCA property and added he hoped classes could resume by early next week. Timmons, who was out of town at a meeting in Rapid City, said the truck completely leveled his office, where he would likely have been at the time of the accident.
“My office was the first to go,” he said. “There’s no way I would have survived. It’s just a miracle that more people weren’t seriously injured or killed.”
A private, non-profit, parent cooperative, according to its website, JCCA is 16 miles east of Watford City.
The DOT will continue to review the accident, Olson said.