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Father turns son over to police for hit-and-run

Fargo police had a suspect in Saturday morning's fatal hit-and-run accident within three hours of the crash, thanks to the Fargo man's father. Police had returned from MeritCare Hospital, where Torri Ellis Knutson, of East Grand Forks, was being ...

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Fargo police had a suspect in Saturday morning's fatal hit-and-run accident within three hours of the crash, thanks to the Fargo man's father.

Police had returned from MeritCare Hospital, where Torri Ellis Knutson, of East Grand Forks, was being treated for her injuries, when they received a call from a concerned Greg Sauvageau.

According to Cass County District Court documents:

Sauvageau said his son had been in an accident and was acting strange.

Police spoke with Michael Paul Sauvageau, who told them he had hit something earlier that morning, but he wasn't sure what it was. Then, he asked for a lawyer. An officer noted that during the interview Sauvageau's breath smelled of alcohol.

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Authorities found that the Jeep Grand Cherokee Sauvageau was driving matched the description of the vehicle in the hit-and-run and was missing a part found at the scene. The vehicle had blood on it and a broken front blinker, which matched the scene.

Knutson, 18, of East Grand Forks, was taken to the MeritCare Hospital in Fargo after the crash in the 1300 block of North University Drive shortly before 3 a.m. Saturday. A doctor told Fargo police she suffered a broken right humerus, multiple fractured ribs, a lung contusion and a severe head injury. She was pronounced dead at 5:36 a.m.

Sauvageau, 1429 11 St. N., in Fargo, was charged Monday with Class B felony manslaughter, Class B felony duty in an accident involving death or injury and Class B misdemeanor driving under the influence in connection with her death.

Witnesses at the scene said they saw a man in a light-colored vehicle speeding down North University Drive before and after he hit Knutson as she stepped into a crosswalk near North Dakota State University.

"I heard a boom - like it was really loud - and I looked up, and I saw her laying in the middle of the road and he was taking off. He was way down the block already," said Jerimiah Wurzbacher, 23, who was about 20 feet away from Knutson before she went into the street.

Suzy Skogen said she was driving home when Sauvageau "went flying past me" as Knutson stepped out onto the road about half a block in front of her. She said Knutson was in the crosswalk about halfway to the other curb when she was hit.

Skogen said she saw Knutson get hit, then lost sight of her for a "split second" before she saw Knutson fall on her back to the ground.

"I think he slightly hit his brakes, but then there really was hardly any change of speed," Skogen, 21, said, adding that she looked up to see the driver "speeding away."

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She said one of Knutson's shoes was still in the spot where she was hit, and another "landed quite a few feet away."

Sauvageau did not return a message at the Cass County Jail seeking comment.

When reached at home Monday, his father declined to comment, but expressed his condolences for Knutson and her family, saying, "I am so sorry. That's all I can say."

Sauvageau is being held on $25,000 cash or bond bail. If convicted, he faces a maximum 10-year sentence and/or a $10,000 fine for each Class B felony. His next court appearance is scheduled for June 14.

The Forum and the Herald are both owned by Forum Communications Co.

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