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Trucker in eastern North Dakota I-29 crash during snowstorm gets jail time

GRAND FORKS -- A trucker charged in a crash on Interstate 29 that killed a woman and injured a Traill County sheriff during a March snowstorm has been sentenced to 90 days in jail.

Alexander Morales-Santana, 38, entered Alford pleas on two counts of felony reckless endangerment Thursday in state District Court in Hillsboro, N.D. In an Alford plea, a defendant acknowledges there's possibly enough evidence for a conviction but does not admit to the charge.

The charges against Morales-Santana, of Cape Coral, Fla., stemmed from a crash that occurred about 4:30 p.m. March 10 about eight miles north of Hillsboro when visibility was as low as 50 feet because of blowing snow and the interstate was closed, the North Dakota Highway Patrol said.

A car carrying two women from Watertown, S.D., -- Chantel Fischer, 21, and Cassandra DeVaney, 20 -- got stuck in the middle of the interstate's northbound lanes, which was covered with 6 inches of snow, the patrol said.

Traill County Sheriff Mike Crocker came to the scene to help the women after their car was struck by a semi. The two women were about to get into Crocker's vehicle, which was parked to the right of the driving lane, when another semi, driven by Morales-Santana, crashed into Crocker's vehicle and fatally struck DeVaney, the Patrol said.

Crocker, who was at the wheel of his vehicle when the semi struck it, suffered pain in his back and head shortly after the crash and was treated at MeritCare in Fargo. He has since returned to work. Fischer, Morales-Santana and the driver of the other semi were not injured.

Crocker's vehicle sustained substantial damage in the crash.

Morales-Santana must pay $2,430 in restitution to Traill County and serve three years of supervised probation. Two other counts of felony reckless endangerment against him were dropped as part of a plea agreement.

Morales-Santana was given credit for 47 days he already has served in jail.