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Single vehicle crash damages New England Public School's historic bell

Police say the incident remains under investigation following a high speed crash that sent one man to the hospital on Thursday and destroying the school entrance sign.

The scene of a car accident outside New England Public School shows the original school building bell on top of a 2019 Honda Civic after a 22-year-old male crashed into the entry signage Thursday, July 14, 2022.
The scene of a car accident outside New England Public School shows the original school building bell on top of a 2019 Honda Civic after a 22-year-old male crashed into the entry signage Thursday, July 14, 2022.
Contributed / James Dykema
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NEW ENGLAND, N.D. — A 22-year-old male driver, going above the speed limit, crashed into the entry signage of the New England Public School building Thursday morning and was transported to Dickinson for further medical attention.

According to Chief Deputy Kyle Christenson, of the Hettinger County Sheriff’s Office, the incident remains under investigation.

Kolyn Cargill, a New England resident, was driving a 2019 Honda Civic and heading northbound on Main Street shortly before 6 a.m., when he drove into the school’s sign and platform. The crash also damaged a mounted artifact — the original school building bell — which was affixed to the sign.

According to the school’s video surveillance footage, reviewed by deputies, Cargill was going well above the speed limit in an area zoned as a school zone with a posted speed limit of 20 mph. Christenson noted that an ongoing investigation seeks to determine just how fast the man was driving at the time of the impact.

“It was a single vehicle accident and with only one occupant — the driver. We’re still investigating the cause of the crash just because it’s unusual that a car just goes at such high speed up Main Street and then crashes into the sign in front of the school in New England,” Christenson said.

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The Hettinger County Sheriff's Office is currently investigating a car accident, pictured above, that took place Thursday, July 14, 2022, in New England, North Dakota, just outside the school building.
The Hettinger County Sheriff's Office is currently investigating a car accident, pictured above, that took place Thursday, July 14, 2022, in New England, North Dakota, just outside the school building.
Contributed / James Dykema

Cargill received on scene medical assistance from the New England Ambulance before being transported to Dickinson for continued medical evaluation. According to Christenson, who was second person to arrive on the scene, Cargill appeared to be walking and talking after getting out of the vehicle.

The individual involved in the incident was not suspected of driving under the influence, and therefore no on-scene standardized field sobriety tests were performed, Christenson explained.

“It was an isolated incident. I don’t suspect foul play or anything like that. It was one driver, one vehicle. There’s no threat to the public and it’s still under investigation,” he said, noting that no charges have been filed as of the interview.

“We’re still trying to determine if there’s a criminal element or if it’s purely medical. We don’t know yet. So that’s why we’re waiting until we get more information," Christenson said. "Then we can have a better picture of what actually occurred, and then we would be able to make a decision on whether the prosecutor would be interested in pursuing charges if that was appropriate.”

Along with the Hettinger County Sheriff’s Office, assisting agencies included the New England Ambulance, New England Fire Department and Slope Electric Cooperative, Inc. Christenson noted that Slope Electric used a cherry picker to remove the bell from on top of the vehicle.

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Jackie Jahfetson is a former reporter for The Dickinson Press.
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The investigation is ongoing.