Man accused of causing 8-vehicle crash near Grand Forks pleads guilty

Crash along Highway 2 west of Grand Forks on Friday, July 2.
Crash along Highway 2 west of Grand Forks on Friday, July 2.(Valley News Live)
Published: May. 18, 2022 at 12:59 PM CDT|Updated: Dec. 19, 2022 at 1:52 PM CST
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GRAND FORKS, N.D. (Valley News Live) - A Minnesota man will likely spend two months in jail after he caused a large crash last July on Highway 2 near Grand Forks.

55-year-old Steven Piechowski is charged in Grand Forks County Court with manslaughter, three felony counts of aggravated assault, reckless endangerment, and two misdemeanor counts of assault and simple assault. He pleaded guilty too all charges in court on Monday, Dec. 19.

Officials say prosecutors agreed for Piechowski to spend 60 days in jail and 60 days on an electronic monitoring system.

On July 2, 2021, officers were called to Highway 2 for a report of a semi driver swerving and driving recklessly on the rumble strips. Eight minutes later, officers took several emergency calls about a multi-vehicle crash. Traffic was head to head at the time of the crash due to the westbound lane being closed.

Court documents say Piechowski was approaching the intersection of Highway 2 and the airport road, which many cars were already stopped at for a red light. Piechowski struck the back of a Chevy Malibu which then started a ‘chaotic’ chain reaction involving six other vehicles.

The driver of the Malibu, later identified as 61-year-old Dr. Eric Jayne, of Des Moines, IA, died from his injuries. Jayne’s passenger, 61-year-old Sally Cooper Smith survived.

14 other people were involved in the crash among the other six vehicles. Court documents say two suffered ‘serious bodily injury,’ while three more sustained substantial injuries.

Documents say there was no evidence collected that showed Piechowski tried to brake before the crash. During an interview with Piechowski, documents say he admitted to looking down prior to the crash.

Piechowski will be sentenced on Feb. 17, 2023.

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