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Troopers identify motorcycle crash victim as police chief of North Dakota town

Brandon Sola was headed west on Interstate 94 when he lost control of the motorcycle, a 2007 Harley Davidson, and it started to wobble. He was thrown from the motorcycle and landed in the median, the North Dakota Highway Patrol said.

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In this 2018 photo, Brandon Sola, then a trooper with the North Dakota Highway Patrol, shows the interior of a 1935 Buick Business Coupe. The two-door models were the first patrol cars used by the Highway Patrol.
Photo courtesy of the Minot Daily News
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WEST FARGO — Authorities have identified a motorcyclist killed in a recent Interstate 94 crash as Brandon Sola, the police chief of Carrington, North Dakota.

Sola, 36, of Velva, was also a master sergeant with the North Dakota Air National Guard in Fargo.

“Our North Dakota National Guard family mourns the loss of one of our family members,” Maj. Gen. Al Dohrmann, North Dakota adjutant general, said in a statement. “We will always remember Brandon’s commitment to the National Guard and to law enforcement.”

The crash happened at about 9 p.m. Tuesday, June 28, just outside of West Fargo when Sola was off duty, authorities said.

Sola was headed west on I-94 when he lost control of the motorcycle, a 2007 Harley Davidson, and it started to wobble, the North Dakota Highway Patrol said. He was thrown from the motorcycle and landed in the median.

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Emergency crews arrived and gave Sola medical treatment, but he died at the scene.

Sola was not wearing a helmet, the patrol said. The motorcycle was the only vehicle involved in the crash.

Westbound I-94 was closed between West Fargo and Mapleton for more than an hour Tuesday night as troopers investigated the crash.

Capt. Bryan Niewind, southeast region commander of the North Dakota Highway Patrol, said Sola once served as a state trooper out of Velva.

Niewind was among several troopers who responded to the crash Tuesday night and knew Sola professionally.

He said it's always a difficult task to respond to a crash, because troopers are part of the community in which they work.

"When we're responding to these tragedies, it can hit home because we know these people, and we have to go talk to their loved ones, as well," Niewind said.

The patrol is investigating what led to the fatal crash.

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Niewind said motorcycles can wobble for a variety of reasons, including environmental, engineering or mechanical issues or driver error.

A wind gust or hitting something on the road can also cause a motorcyclist to lose control, he said.

Carrington, where Sola was police chief, is a Foster County town in central North Dakota about 140 miles northwest of Fargo.

Sola began working for the Carrington Police Department in November 2021 and was sworn in as chief about a month later. He worked part-time initially while he finished a project with the Guard, according to Carrington Mayor Tom Erdmann.

An officer raises his right hand during an oath of office
Brandon Sola raises his right hand while being sworn in as police chief of Carrington, North Dakota, during a City Council meeting on Dec. 13, 2021. Sola was killed Tuesday, June 28, 2022, when he lost control of his motorcycle and crashed on Interstate 94 just outside of West Fargo while off-duty.
Submitted photo

He had only been a full-time chief since April, Erdmann said, and Sola's wife and five children were looking forward to making the 100-mile move southeast from Velva to Carrington.

Sola's death leaves the Carrington Police Department further short-staffed. The city budgets for five total police officers, including the chief and a sergeant.

Erdmann said before this crash, they were already down one officer and were interviewing for the position. Now, the city will also advertise for a new chief.

Meanwhile, the Foster County Sheriff's Office will help cover law enforcement needs, as it was already doing given the shortage, Erdmann said. Departments from other towns have also offered to help.

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The mayor said they will still be able to provide 24/7 law enforcement protection to the town of just over 2,000.

Erdmann offered condolences to Sola's family and friends.

“Brandon worked each and every day for the safety of our community. Together, we mourn his death, and our thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends,” he said.

Sola had been a member of the 119th Wing’s Happy Hooligans since 2003. He earned a master’s degree in leadership from Ashford University and a Community College of the Air Force degree in aircraft maintenance.

“The entire Hooligan family is deeply saddened by the loss of one of our own,” said Col. Mitch Johnson, 119th Wing commander. “My top priority right now is to ensure we provide full support to the Airman’s family, friends and co-workers. All available Wing resources are at their disposal.”

A gofundme has been set up to raise money for Sola's funeral and memorial.
Funeral arrangements are pending.

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Troopers with the North Dakota Highway Patrol examine the scene of a fatal motorcycle crash along Interstate 94 on Tuesday, June 28, 2022, near West Fargo.
Matt Henson/WDAY

Huebner is a 35+ year veteran of broadcast and print journalism in Fargo-Moorhead.
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