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Dickinson teacher identified as woman who died in Saturday crash near Amidon

Johanna Njos

A Dickinson elementary school teacher was killed Saturday afternoon in a head-on collision west of Amidon.

Johanna Njos, a 30-year-old from Rhame, was identified Sunday night by the North Dakota Highway Patrol. She taught classes for gifted and talented students at Lincoln and Berg elementary schools.

"We're just so saddened by the death of our extremely gifted and talented teacher," said Tammy Praus, the principal at Lincoln Elementary School.

Njos taught 32 students from kindergarten through fourth grade at Lincoln and fifth-graders at Berg.

She was attempting to negotiate a left-hand curve while traveling south along ice-covered Highway 85 west of Amidon and north of Bowman shortly when the car she was driving was struck by an oncoming semi truck at about 3:15 p.m. Saturday, according to the NDHP.

Njos was driving southbound along the curve in a 2009 Ford Fusion at the same time as 55-year-old Pedro A. Hernandez of Perryton, Texas, was heading northeast around the curve in a 2002 Mack semi hauling a flatbed trailer.

As their vehicles approached each other, the road conditions caused Njos to lose control of the car and it slid into the semi's lane. Hernandez was unable to take evasive actions and avoid a collision. He struck the passenger side of the car and both vehicles went into the south ditch of the highway.

Both drivers were wearing their seatbelts and the airbags in Njos' car deployed. Hernandez was not injured.

Windy conditions were causing snow to blow across the highway at the time of the crash and Sgt. Steven Fischer of the NDHP said Saturday that weather and road conditions were a factor.

Praus said the school has notified its staff members, as well as Njos' students and their parents.

She said counselors from other Dickinson elementary schools will be available at Lincoln on Monday.

"As a staff, we're going to get together tomorrow morning and just have a gathering and make sure that everyone is comfortable and adjusting in their classroom," Praus said.

Because Njos' funeral will be held Wednesday in Bowman, Praus said the Lincoln staff is making plans to honor her with a memorial service at the school.

"She was an excellent, well-respected employee," said Doug Sullivan, the superintendent of Dickinson Public Schools. "The school district's thoughts are with the family."

Praus said Njos worked with small groups of students and was preparing to help the school form its first chess club, which was set to launch this week.

Praus said the school intends to follow through with Njos' plans for the club.

"She touched the lives of so many students and staff in our building and throughout our district," Praus said.

The accident remains under investigation by the NDHP and the Bowman County Sheriff's Office.

Dustin Monke

Monke came to The Dickinson Press in July 2006 as the newspaper's sports editor and was hired as its managing editor in March 2013. During his tenure at The Press, Monke has won multiple awards for sports reporting, feature reporting, column writing, page design and photography. He was a key part of The Press winning the North Dakota Newspaper Association's General Excellence and Sweepstakes awards in 2009 and 2012, and oversaw The Press' Sweepstakes and General Excellence wins in 2014, as well as its national first-place honors for Community Leadership in the Inland Daily Press Association and contributed to the first-place Inland award for Investigative Reporting. As the newspaper's editor, he writes an occasional Sunday column, is a member of The Press' Editorial Board, contributes feature stories and breaking news, designs pages, and oversees the day-to-day operations of the newsroom and editorial staff. In his free time, he enjoys watching sports and action movies, exercises whenever his schedule allows, and spends every minute he can with his wife and son.

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