Police: Janklow Was Driving 70-75 MPH in Fatal Crash

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Rep. Bill Janklow (search) was driving an estimated 70-75 mph when he ran a stop sign and collided with a motorcycle, according to an accident report released Wednesday by the South Dakota Highway Patrol.

The speed limit on the road is 55 mph.

The report increases the likelihood of prosecutors bringing criminal charges against the former four-term governor, who has exerted enormous political power over South Dakota politics for nearly 30 years.

Highway Patrol officials said they would forward the results of the report to Moody County prosecutor William Ellingson (search), who will decide whether to bring charges against Janklow.

Ellingson said he has no deadline for deciding any charges. "That process cannot and should not be rushed," Ellingson said.

Janklow's son, Russ Janklow, said Wednesday his father was expecting to be prosecuted. Possible charges range from second-degree manslaughter to a misdemeanor such as careless driving.

The Saturday afternoon crash killed Randolph E. Scott (search), 55, whose Harley-Davidson collided with Janklow's Cadillac at an intersection of two paved roads near the Minnesota line.

Janklow's car spun around and ended up in a ditch at the edge of a soybean field. Scott was thrown from the motorcycle and landed in a soybean field; he died at the scene.

The accident report said the motorcycle was going 55 mph to 60 mph at the time of the crash.

According to the report, Janklow said he had to swerve to avoid another vehicle. However, no other vehicles are listed in the report.

The report also says neither man had been drinking.

Scott was not wearing a motorcycle helmet, but that is not required in South Dakota.

Janklow, 63, injured his head, fractured his hand and was unconscious for a short time after the crash, his son said.

Shortly after the crash, he complained of a bad headache and seemed confused, his son said. Family members encouraged him to see a doctor, but he refused until the next day.

Janklow underwent more medical tests Tuesday that apparently found some bleeding on the brain near his right temple, his son said. It wasn't immediately clear how severe the injuries were.

Janklow has made no public comments about the crash, other than a prepared statement issued Sunday in which he expressed anguish over the accident.

The prosecutor in neighboring Minnehaha County, Dave Nelson, said he can remember only a few cases when a driver in his county was charged with second-degree manslaughter after a fatal traffic accident.

Drivers usually face misdemeanors such as reckless driving. Reckless driving can include improper passing or lane changes, stop sign violations, speeding, as drinking or drug use, Nelson said.

Reckless driving carries a maximum penalty of a year in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Janklow has long been known for having a heavy accelerator foot, picking up 12 speeding tickets from 1990 to October 1994, just before he began his second stint as governor. He was elected to South Dakota's lone House seat last year.

Earlier Wednesday, the South Dakota Highway Patrol allowed reporters to view and photograph Janklow's car and Scott's motorcycle.

The off-white Cadillac DeVille looks like someone stripped away much of the back half of the left side of the car. The motorcycle collided with the Cadillac behind the driver's door.

The back quarter panel is dented and scraped, and an exterior cell phone antenna dangles from outside the shattered back window. The left tire and wheel are torn off and it appears the force of the impact pushed the axle so the right wheel is bent in. Even the tail pipe and muffler are bowed inward.

The front half and the passenger side of the car appear largely untouched, except for a smashed windshield and a scrape across the front of the hood, likely from when the car ran over a county road sign before ending up in a soybean field about 300 feet from the impact site.

Both front air bags deployed and a Taco John's cup still sits on the front seat.

Scott's Harley-Davidson is twisted and bent from front to back.

The portrait of the crash emerged as the funeral was held for Scott, a well-known member of the community in Hardwick, Minn.

In a church overflowing with mourners, the Rev. Mark Mumme eulogized Scott and said Janklow would carry the guilt with him for a long time. He said he had spoken with Janklow, and he urged friends of the victim to trust the investigation.

"Newspapers will yellow and fade away," but in the long term, it's an opportunity to forgive, Mumme said. "We will get through this."