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Truck driver gets 10 days in jail linked to fatality in 100-car I-94 pileup during 2010 blizzard

FARGO - A Chicago truck driver was sentenced to 10 days in jail today after pleading guilty to causing a crash that killed a Walcott, N.D., man during a Dec. 30, 2010, pileup that resulted in nearly 100 cars becoming stranded in whiteout conditions on Interstate 94.

Nenad Sibinovic, 29, pleaded guilty in Cass County District Court to a Class A misdemeanor count of reckless driving.

"I feel very bad about that situation," he said before Judge John Irby handed down the sentence, which includes one year of supervised probation and $500 in fines and fees.

Irby told Sibinovic the time served in jail will fade from his memory.

"But the events of the day in question are going to be with you forever," he said.

Assistant State's Attorney Tristan Van de Streek said Sibinovic was driving too fast on icy roads in whiteout conditions when he caused the crash that led to the death of Lowell Balk, 50, of Walcott, N.D., who died in the hospital four days after the crash.

Van de Streek said the black-box recording device from Sibinovic's semi indicated he was going 50 to 55 mph in the whiteout conditions. Sibinovic disputed that, saying he believes he was going 35 mph.

The North Dakota Highway Patrol said there were 15 vehicles involved in the series of collisions that eventually killed Balk.

Prosecutors asked Irby to order the 10-day jail term. Sibinovic's defense attorney, Mark Beauchene, said five days would be "more than enough."

Sibinovic told authorities he saw a person in the roadway who began to run away as he passed by, the patrol's report states. Van de Streek said it's still not known whether Sibinovic's truck or another vehicle actually struck Balk.

The massive pileup, which grabbed national headlines, started when an empty semi jackknifed across both eastbound lanes. The ensuing series of accidents caused 35 crashes damaging nearly 50 vehicles, according to Forum archives.