A 21-year-old Williston woman has been charged with a felony almost exactly eight months after a fatal crash on U.S. Highway 2 west of Williston.
Khatelyn Carter was charged with negligent homicide, a class C felony and ordered held Wednesday, May 22, on $5,000 bond. Police said on Sept. 21, Carter was driving a 2018 Jeep Cherokee that crashed into the rear of a Ford Taurus that had stopped on Highway 2 to make a left turn onto 146th Drive NW.
The Ford was sent spinning into oncoming traffic, where it was hit in the passenger side by a 2011 Ford F-150 driven by 53-year-old Troy Johnson of Williston, according to an accident report from the North Dakota Highway Patrol.
Fifteen-year-old Kennedy Hansen, a Fairview student, was riding in the front seat of the Taurus and was killed in the crash. Johnson, Carter and the 17-year-old driver, who police have not named, were all injured in the crash.
Carter was traveling 72 mph just before the crash, according to an affidavit of probable cause filed in Northwest District Court. Police said her SUV was traveling between 61 and 67 mph at the time of the crash.
In charging documents, an NDHP trooper wrote that Carter told police she had been reaching for a smoothie and didn’t have time to react to the stopped Ford Taurus. The trooper wrote that the Taurus’ brake lights would have been visible nearly 2,000 feet away, and at Carter’s speed, she would have had approximately 18 seconds to react.
At a bond hearing Wednesday, Eric Lundberg, assistant state’s attorney for Williams County, asked for Carter’s bond to be set at $15,000. He said originally the prosecution was going to ask for $20,000 bond, but reduced its request because Carter had no criminal history.
But, he said, the serious nature of the charges required a high bond to protect the community.
“It’s not just someone that died in the area, it’s a child that died,” he said.
Jeff Nehring, Carter’s defense attorney, said Carter had cooperated fully with the police and when she found out about the warrant, she turned herself in. He argued that the allegations in the charging documents hadn’t been proven, and said the fact it took eight months for the prosecution to bring charges seemed to show the prosecution didn’t think Carter was dangerous.
Nehring asked for a $5,000 personal recognizance bond.
Northwest District Judge Josh Rustad said the result of the crash was indisputable — Hansen was killed. But, he said, the length of time between the crash and when charges were filed did lend credence to Nehring’s point.
He said he wasn’t comfortable with a personal recognizance bond and ordered bond set at $5,000.
The Sept. 21 crash was part of a string of fatal crashes where five people were killed on Williams County roads in about a week.
On Sept. 19, Thomas O’Dell, 26, died in a motorcycle crash on U.S. Highway 85 north of Williston. On Sept. 23, Gilberto Gomez Jr., 24, and Rosa Aguayo, 45, were killed in a crash in nearly the same spot on Highway 2 as the crash that claimed Hansen’s life.
On Sept. 25, Wendy Newsome, 29, was killed when her car was struck by a police SUV driven by Williston Police Sgt. Dustin Bertsch. In all, 12 people were killed in crashes in Williams County in 2018.
Carter is scheduled to have a preliminary hearing on June 19.