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Plea agreement: Truck driver faces one-year sentence for fatal crash in Grand Forks last December

A van collided with a semi truck Dec. 22, 2010 at U.S. Highway 2 and the airport road, killing two children and injuring another child and two adults. Herald photo by Eric Hylden.

A truck driver would face a one-year sentence for causing a crash that killed two children in Grand Forks last December under a plea agreement filed today in state district court.

Steven C. Nelson, 65, of Jamestown, N.D., was driving a semitrailer east on U.S. Highway 2 just before 10 a.m. on Dec. 22, 2010, when he crashed into the driver's side of a van crossing the highway, going north on Grand Forks County Road 5, according to officials.

The crash resulted in the death of two children riding in the van, Kaylee-Jo Wyatt, 8, and Kevin Boyer III, 5. Driver Kevin Boyer Jr., their father, and another child, 3-year-old Xxaxx, survived. They each spent less than a week in the hospital.

In court today in Grand Forks, Assistant State's Attorney David Jones recounted the events that resulted in the crash when Nelson failed to slow down at the intersection and ran a red light.

Defense Attorney Alexander Reichert amended the account slightly, saying, "It's an overstatement to say he didn't slow down. He didn't slow down enough."

Nelson faces two felony counts of negligent homicide and one misdemeanor count of aggravated reckless driving.

If Judge Karen Braaten approves it, the plea agreement would require Nelson to serve 60 days of the one-year sentence, which he could serve on electronic home monitoring. He would then be on supervised probation for 18 months.

Nelson would also have to serve 100 hours of community service "with an emphasis on highway safety," the agreement said.

In the case of a conviction without the plea agreement, the maximum penalty for the three charges would be 11 years in prison.

Reichert told the Herald in March that Nelson was retired but was working Dec. 22 to earn money to buy his wife a diamond ring for Christmas, something he hadn't given her when they married.

Judge Braaten scheduled Nelson's sentencing for Sept. 6.