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Deadly rash of crashes in Fargo: Police say drag racing may have caused Sunday's fatal accident

Three candles and several roses sit at a support pillar for the Interstate 94 overpass along University Drive in south Fargo after a 23-year-old man died there in a crash Sunday morning. Carrie Snyder / The Forum

Police are investigating whether drag racing was a factor in the latest death among a flurry of fatal accidents on Fargo's streets.

The latest victim, an unidentified 23-year-old Fargo man, was killed early Sunday morning when his car crashed into a bridge support pillar on South University Drive at the Interstate 94 overpass.

The southbound Chevy Impala was traveling at a high rate of speed when it crossed the median and struck the pillar about 1:50 a.m.

The driver, who was alone in the car, was pronounced dead at the scene.

Police were investigating reports that two cars were drag racing at the time of the accident, Lt. Joel Vettel said, adding there are indications a second vehicle might have been involved in the crash.

"Whether they were drag racing, we don't know," he said. "That's one of the things we're looking at."

Police are disturbed by the spate of fatal accidents. In less than three weeks, five people have died in four accidents, leaving grieving friends and relatives as well as makeshift memorials at the crash sites.

Fargo Police Chief Keith Ternes said police will meet early this week to review patrolling strategies to keep streets safe and deter reckless driving.

"We're going to be very aggressive," he said, continuing with motorcycle patrols, unmarked squad cars and heightened patrols in school zones.

The string of fatalities in such a short time is puzzling, Ternes said, noting that accidents for the first nine months of the year had decreased. The city's last fatal traffic accident was nearly two years ago.

Officers will be analyzing the fatal accidents to see what, if any, contributing factors might link them, the chief said.

"We may find we're just under a black cloud," Ternes added.

At least two of the accidents, including the Sunday morning crash and another early Saturday morning that claimed the life of 17-year-old Tyler S. Tweten of Fargo, appear to have involved speed, Vettel said.

"We don't have enough information" to determine the cause of the accident, Vettel said, in which the car Tweten was riding in slid off the street and struck a tree near the intersection of Seventh Street and 11th Avenue North.

The 16-year-old female driver and two other male passengers in the car have not been identified. Police are still interviewing those involved in the accident.

"Obviously, they were just like any other teenagers," Vettel said. "It doesn't appear that there was anything out of the ordinary they were doing."

Two other recent fatal accidents involved alcohol, Vettel said.

"You can kind of see some common threads there," he added. "That's concerning to us."

Officers dread having to notify relatives that a loved one has just died in an accident.

"That's the worst aspect of any law enforcement officer's job," Vettel said.