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Driver charged in crash near Grand Forks that killed two children

A memorial with flowers and stuffed animals marks the intersection west of Grand Forks where Kaylee-Jo Wyatt, 8, and Kevin Boyer III, 5, were killed Dec. 22, 2010, in a two-vehicle collision. Forum Communications Co. file photo

A truck driver was charged Tuesday in connection with a crash that killed two children at an intersection near Grand Forks International Airport.

Steven C. Nelson, 65, of Jamestown, N.D., is facing two felony counts of negligent homicide and one misdemeanor count of aggravated reckless driving.

About 10 a.m. Dec. 22, 2010, Nelson was driving a semitrailer east on U.S. Highway 2 when it crashed into the driver's side of a conversion van that was crossing the highway, heading north on Grand Forks County Road 5, authorities said.

A North Dakota Highway Patrol investigation found that Nelson ran a red light at the intersection, according to court documents filed Tuesday.

Kevin Boyer Jr. was driving the van and his three children were passengers. Two of his children - Kaylee-Jo Wyatt, 8, and Kevin Boyer III, 5 - were killed as a result of the collision.

Boyer and his 3-year-old son, Xxaxx, were injured in the crash. The two were hospitalized for less than a week.

Nelson, who was also injured, was treated and released from the hospital the day of the collision.

Nelson's attorney, Alex Reichert of Grand Forks, declined to comment on the specifics of the case because he has not received the prosecution's evidence, but he acknowledged the seriousness of the crash and the charges.

"This is a horrible accident. My client is going through his own private hell on this. It's been very difficult for him," Reichert said. "He understands it's not even close to what the family of the victims are going through, and his heart really goes out to them."

Reichert said Nelson was retired for a number of years but was driving a truck Dec. 22 to earn money for a Christmas present for his wife. Nelson planned to buy her a diamond ring "because he never got her one when they got married," Reichert said. "It's just really tragic all the way around."

Nelson made his initial appearance Tuesday in state District Court. He posted $2,500 to be released from custody, Reichert said.

A date for Nelson's preliminary hearing has not been set. If convicted on all charges, he would face a maximum penalty of 11 years in prison.

In a news release, the Grand Forks County State's Attorney's Office said it will not be commenting publicly on the case until it's resolved.