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Man wanted after fatal East Grand Forks car crash now in custody

Valentin Mendoza, 20, was arrested late Tuesday night in Crookston. Police there claimed he turned himself in at the Northwest Regional Corrections Center.

Valentin Mendoza.jpeg
Valentin Mendoza

A 20-year-old wanted for allegedly killing a pair of Grand Forks teenagers in a June car crash reportedly turned himself in to regional authorities on Tuesday night.

Crookston police arrested Valentin Mendoza around 11:20 p.m. on Nov. 23 outside the Northwest Regional Corrections Center in Crookston. Police department staff said Mendoza turned himself in, but they declined to provide further specifics without the Herald submitting a data request for documents relating to the arrest, which the paper has.

Prosecutors contend that Mendoza deliberately crashed his car in June on Highway 220 about a mile north of East Grand Forks. Killed in the crash were 17-year-old Ethan Carsen and 16-year-old Damien Powell. The pair’s SUV was struck head-on by Mendoza’s pickup. A Minnesota state trooper concluded that the crash site was “dry blacktop free from defects or damage that could have contributed to the collision” and that “there were no tire or brake marks near the point of impact of the collision,” according to a statement of probable cause filed with the warrant for Mendoza’s arrest .

Mendoza is currently in custody at the Crookston jail. After a remote hearing held Wednesday, according to Polk County court records, his bail was set at $200,000 conditional cash bail, an $800,000 conditional bond, or a $1 million unconditional bond or cash.

“This is the start of the healing process for two families and the beginning of justice for two innocent young men who should still be here with us today,” Brandi Carsen, Ethan Carsen’s mom, said Wednesday.

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WDAY reporter Matt Henson contributed to this report.

Related Topics: CRIME AND COURTS
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