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Semi driver pleads guilty to amended charges for eight-vehicle crash in 2021

His Class B felony manslaughter charge was amended to Class C felony negligent homicide. Five other charges were amended. His sentencing is scheduled for Feb. 17.

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Steven Charles Piechowski, 55, pleaded guilty to six amended charges and one existing charge on Monday, Dec. 19. (Matt Henson / WDAY News)
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GRAND FORKS – A Felton, Minnesota man charged with manslaughter for an eight-vehicle crash in Grand Forks County in July 2021 changed his plea on Monday, Dec. 19.

Steven Charles Piechowski, 55, pleaded guilty to six amended charges and one existing charge.

Piechowski’s Class B felony manslaughter charge was amended to Class C felony negligent homicide. His three Class C felony aggravated assault charges were amended to Class A misdemeanor aggravated reckless driving charges. Piechowski’s misdemeanor assault charges were also amended to aggravated reckless driving.

The only charge that remained unamended was Piechowski’s Class C felony charge for reckless endangerment (extreme indifference).

Both Class C felony charges have maximum penalties of five years in prison and $10,000 in fines. The Class A misdemeanor charges each have a maximum penalty of 360 days and $3,000 in fines.

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On the morning of July 2, 2021, Piechowski was heading east on Highway 2 in a construction zone . He was driving a Volvo truck tractor and pulling a trailer with hot asphalt in it.

A witness called to report Piechowski for driving recklessly as he was swerving all over the highway, according to an affidavit in the case. Due to construction, the westbound lanes were closed and traffic was head-to-head.

Piechowski was traveling on the highway and nearing the Grand Forks airport. He struck the rear of a Chevrolet Malibu, starting a chain reaction crash involving an additional six vehicles.

Witnesses confirmed the stop light was red at the time of the crash, the affidavit said.

The driver of the Malibu died from injuries sustained in the crash. There were five others injured with varying degrees of severity.

Piechowski’s sentencing is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Feb. 17.

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Sav Kelly joined the Grand Forks Herald in August 2022.

Kelly covers public safety, including local crime and the courts system.

Readers can reach Kelly at (701) 780-1102 or skelly@gfherald.com.
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