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Faith Mitzel of Oberon talks about the fatal accident she was involved in on May 19 along a stretch of Highway 57 near Fort Totten. She says witnesses can testify that she was not at fault. Sarah Kolberg/ Forum Communications

Elderly driver involved in May fatal accident cited for new traffic violations

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The Oberon, N.D., woman cited for careless driving in a head-on crash in May that killed a motorcycle passenger was stopped Tuesday by a sheriff's deputy for not using her turn signal.

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Faith Mitzel, who turns 93 today , wasn't even supposed to be driving.

Mitzel said she was driving home an "old car," she owned and had repaired in Devils Lake. A Ramsey County Sheriff's deputy pulled her over Tuesday morning for failing to signal a turn.

She was taken to the law enforcement center in Devils Lake and cited for the turn signal violation, as well as having out-of-date license tabs on the 1994 Chevy and no liability insurance on it.

She is scheduled to appear in court in the Lake Region Law Enforcement Center Monday on the citations, Mitzel said.

Mitzel said she also was told her driver's license "had a block" on it, but that she wasn't aware of that.

However, law enforcement officers say her license has been suspended since shortly after the fatal accident.

In a case that drew national attention because of Mitzel's age and the result of the accident, she was give a $20 ticket for a May 19 collision with two motorcycles that killed a pregnant woman and injured two men.

The North Dakota Highway Patrol says Mitzel's 2000 Oldsmobile crossed the center line on state Highway 57 about two miles north of Fort Totten near dusk that day, hitting two Harley-Davidson motorcycles head-on.

Sheri Liedholt, 30, the passenger on one, was fatally injured, dying the next day in a Fargo hospital. Her husband, James Leidholt, 37, was critically injured, as was Jason Hunter, 33, the driver of the first motorcycle hit by Mitzel.

All three were from Devils Lake. Sheri Liedholt was pregnant. Hunter had a foot amputated.

Mitzel was given a $20 traffic ticket and her driver's license was suspended June 2 by the state's Department of Transportation. She had disputed the Patrol's findings, and denies she was in the wrong lane. After first announcing she would fight the ticket from May 19, she dropped it. But again Tuesday she made clear she thinks she didn't do anything wrong and should be able to drive.

She hasn't been able to get her Oldsmobile back, she said.

Tuesday morning, Mitzel got a friend to drive her into Devils Lake, about 42 miles from her rural home near Oberon, to pick up an older car of hers she had gotten repaired.

"That's the first time I have drove," she said, referring to the May accident. "I was just going to bring my car home, to sell it anyway. In fact, it is sold."

After being cited Tuesday, she had a friend drive her to get new license tabs for the car, she said.

"I got the insurance man coming and am going to get that straightened out. I had to leave the car and get taken to the police station. I'm supposed to go Monday in to have a hearing and then we will see about that."

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