Minnesota State Trooper Charged With Rochester Teen’s Death in Crash
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Minnesota State Trooper Charged With Rochester Teen’s Death in Crash

Minnesota State Trooper Charged With Rochester Teen’s Death in Crash

Minnesota State Patrol Trooper Shane Roper has been charged with several felonies and other criminal misdemeanors in connection with the May 18 death of an 18-year-old teenager in a hit-and-run accident and the injuries to five others while trying to catch a minor traffic offender. Photo: Minnesota State Patrol

July 9 (UPI) — Minnesota State Police Trooper Shane Roper has been charged with several felonies for allegedly causing a three-car pileup that killed Olivia Flores, 18, and injured five other people on May 18.

Olmsted County District Attorney Mark Ostrem filed charges Tuesday charging 32-year-old Hayfield resident Roper with second-degree murder, vehicular homicide, five counts of criminal operation of a vehicle, reckless driving and careless driving in the crash that occurred at the intersection of 12th Street SW and Apache Drive SW in Rochester, Minnesota.

“Police Chief Roper, in such egregious breach of his duty, caused the death of a young woman celebrating her upcoming high school graduation,” Ostrem says in the criminal complaint.

“Roper’s conduct violated the core values ​​of the State Patrol,” it continued. “As with anyone who drives carelessly and without regard to basic traffic rules, Mr. Roper’s conduct cannot be tolerated.”

The Rochester Police Department investigated the crash and found that Roper was standing motionless in his patrol car before he began a pursuit that ended in a fatal three-car crash.

Roper also had a passenger riding with him in the patrol car.

According to the indictment filed by Ostrem, at about 5:40 p.m., Roper was involved in a minor traffic violation and was driving south on U.S. Highway 52, reaching speeds of 98 mph, with his patrol car’s emergency lights activated.

Ostrem claims Roper turned off his emergency lights while following a suspected traffic violator coming onto 12th Street SW.

Roper slowed briefly to exit the highway, then quickly accelerated to 83 mph in a 40 mph zone before hitting “full throttle” as he approached the intersection with Apache Drive SW, Ostrem said.

The intersection is the main entrance to the Apache Mall, which Ostrem said sees “a lot of traffic” in the late afternoon and early evening,

The road configuration also makes it difficult to see oncoming vehicles.

Ostrem claims the driver of the SUV was making a left turn at the intersection, which blocked Roper’s view of vehicles in the left lane.

Roper was travelling at 83 mph when the Ford Focus, which had three people in it, began to swerve to the left.

Roper failed to slow down in time to avoid a collision and hit the Ford at about 55 miles per hour.

The force of the impact pushed Roper’s patrol car and the Ford into a Toyota RAV4 that had two people inside.

Ostrem said the driver of the Ford described the Roper’s speed as a “rocket,” and several witnesses said the police car was traveling extremely fast, with no emergency lights or siren to warn others.

As a result of the collision, Flores died from blunt force trauma that was inflicted on her while in the back seat of the Ford.

The driver of the Ford suffered a lacerated liver and a contused kidney, while the other passenger suffered a fractured pelvis, a lacerated kidney and other injuries.

Both people in the RAV4 felt physical pain as a result of the crash, Ostrem said.

A passenger in Roper’s patrol car who was riding with him suffered multiple broken and bruised ribs.

Several weeks later, Roper told crash investigators that he was trying to approach a traffic suspect but said he was not taking part in the pursuit.

He added that he did not know how fast he was going and thought his hazard lights were on.

Investigators determined Roper caused four other crashes due to inattention or speeding, including one in which he drove at 135 mph in a 55 mph zone without using his patrol car’s hazard lights.

Ostrem claims that during the three hours he was on duty before the fatal crash on May 18, Roper drove at speeds of up to 99 miles per hour while trying to pull over drivers for minor traffic violations.

Even though Roper faces several charges, he is on paid leave under his employment agreement with the state police.