Red River Valley Sugarbeet board member dies in single-car accident; driver faces felony charges – Agweek

EDINBURGH, ND — The treasurer of the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association died in a single-vehicle crash Saturday night in Walsh County and the driver has been charged with two felonies.

Killed was Jason Schatzke, 48, a resident and farmer of Wheatland, North Dakota. His family farm grows edible beans, sunflowers, corn, wheat, soybeans and sugar beets.

According to a report from the North Dakota Highway Patrol, Christopher Thompson, 46, of Grafton, North Dakota, was driving a 2022 GMC Yukon when he pulled off Walsh County Road 9 near the intersection of 133rd Avenue Northeast and hit a tree about 9 p.m. on November 12. The road was snowy at that time. Schatzke, a passenger, died at the scene about four miles east of Edinburgh.

Thompson is Vice Chairman of the Sugarbeet Research and Education Board.

There were six people in the vehicle at the time of the accident. Schatzke was unrestrained, while the others wore seat belts. Another passenger, Rodney Olson, of Halstad, Minnesota, suffered minor injuries. The uninjured passengers were Brent Baldwin from St. Thomas, North Dakota, Anita Olson from Halstad and Tanya Schatzke from Wheatland.

According to court records, Thompson was charged on Monday, Nov. 14 in Walsh County with two counts of bodily injury or death resulting from driving under the influence. One count is a Class A felony, which carries a sentence of up to 20 years in prison, and the other count is a Class C felony, which carries a sentence of up to to five years in prison.

Bail for Thompson was set at $5,000. His first appearance in the case is scheduled for December 13 before Northeast District Judge Barbara Whelan.

Randy Olson is a recently retired board member of the American Sugarbeet Association. Baldwin is vice president of the Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association and a member of the board of directors of the American Sugarbeet Association.

The Red River Valley Sugarbeet Growers Association declined to comment on the accident.

The accident is still under investigation by the North Dakota Highway Patrol and the Walsh County Sheriff’s Department.

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