LEONARD, N.D. — Seven teenagers were injured when two vehicles collided in an accident that state troopers said involved distracted driving the night of Friday, Oct. 22.
The accident happened at 9:31 p.m. Friday six miles north of Leonard on North Dakota Highway 18.
A sport utility vehicle driven southbound by Abraham Lara Cruz, 18, Melrose, Minn., collided with a northbound van driven by Jaylin Parras, 18, of Georgetown, Minn.
The accident occurred on a curve in a no-passing zone, according to the North Dakota Highway Patrol, which gave this account of the accident:
A southbound motorist had stopped at an intersection with a gravel road and was waiting to turn.
Cruz, distracted by his GPS, failed to notice that traffic had stopped ahead of him and drove into the northbound lane to avoid a rear-end collision. The northbound van driven by Parras was struck on the passenger side.
The sport utility vehicle driven by Cruz drove into the east ditch of Highway 18 and rolled, coming to rest on its passenger side. The van driven by Parras came to a rest in the middle of the highway.
Both vehicles sustained heavy damage and were totaled in the collision. A 16-year-old juvenile female passenger in the van, unidentified by troopers, was extricated by fire and rescue responders and flown by Sanford AirMed to Sanford Medical Center.
Parras and all occupants of the sport utility vehicle were taken by ambulance to Sanford Medical Center, none with injuries that appeared life-threatening.
Troopers cited Cruz for overtaking where prohibited and failure to maintain control-distracted driving.
Kevin Martinez, 18, Melrose, Minn., a passenger in the sport utility vehicle, suffered unspecified injuries. He wore seatbelts and airbags were deployed. Cruz also wore seatbelts and was injured. Three other passengers also wore seatbelts and sustained injuries: Christopher Carillo Juarez, 18, Melrose; Geraldo Chavez, 19,Melrose; Brandon Montanez Garcia, 18, Melrose
The crash remains under investigation by the North Dakota Highway Patrol.