Minnesota trooper accused of driving 135 mph before crash that killed teen

Prosecutors in Minnesota have filed criminal charges against against a state trooper who allegedly caused a three-vehicle crash this spring, killing a woman and injuring five other people.

Shane Elroy Roper, on duty at the time of the fatal wreck, stands accused of speeding without lights or sirens in the May 18 crash that killed 18-year-old high school student Olivia Flores, Olmsted County Attorney Mark Ostrem said.

Roper, who suffered minor injuries in the crash, is charged with second-degree manslaughter and criminal vehicular homicide in connection to Flores' death and multiple charges of criminal vehicular operation related to the other victims.

The wreck took place just before 5:45 p.m. near a mall in the city of Rochester in the southeastern portion of the state. Authorities claim Roper, 32, was driving 83 mph in a 40 mph zone just before the crash, according to a criminal complaint obtained by USA TODAY.

“Roper, violating his duty in such a gross fashion, caused the death of a young lady celebrating her impending graduation from high school,” Ostrem announced in a statement issued Tuesday.

98 mph: Trooper 'accelerated to a full throttle'

A preliminary crash investigation revealed a Minnesota State Patrol vehicle driven by Roper was stopped on a highway entrance ramp conducting traffic enforcement when he activated his emergency lights and exited the ramp at a high rate of speed reaching 98 mph, according to the statement, "attempting to catch up to a traffic violator," before exiting onto 12th Street Southeast.

Exiting the ramp onto the street, Roper turned off his emergency lights and sirens and accelerated to full throttle reaching 83 mph approaching an intersection leading to the Apache Mall, the statement continues.

The patrol vehicle T-boned a Ford Focus turning into the mall, and one or both vehicles were then pushed into a Toyota Rav4.

"Investigation revealed that Trooper Roper did not come off the full throttle until the Focus started into the intersection, approximately 1.4 seconds before impact," the statement reads.

Trooper in Minnesota fatal wreck reached speeds of 135 earlier in day

Emergency personnel extricated and providing medical treatment to the occupants of the Focus and Rav4, prosecutors said. All victims in those two vehicles were taken to a hospital where Flores died a few hours later.

The other five victims suffered serious injuries including broken bones and other major injuries, Ostrem said.

Investigation revealed that at least four times earlier in the day, Roper also "engaged in high-speed driving without emergency lights, in one instance reaching a speed of 135 mph, other times over 99 mph," the statement continues. "Each of these instances Roper either did not initiate emergency lights or turned them off while maintaining extreme speeds."

According to the criminal complaint, several weeks after the crash, Roper provided a statement to investigators and said he was attempting to "close the gap" between his squad car and the vehicle he suspected of being in violation of the traffic code.

Roper, the complaint continues, said the chase was not an active pursuit and he was not paying attention to his speed.

"When asked about the operation of his emergency lights, Roper said he believed his lights were still activated when he was on 12th Street SW. Roper said he attempted to clear the intersection prior to entering it," court papers show.

Fatal bulldozer crash: Utah CEO and teenage daughter killed after bulldozer falls on their truck

Trooper charged in crash that killed Olivia Flores due in court Aug. 29

Court papers filed in the case did not have an attorney of record listed for Roper, who officials said was on paid administrative leave Wednesday.

USA TODAY has reached out to to state police.

Although the complaint did not list Roper's bail amount, he remained free on bond Wednesday. His first court appearance is slated for Aug. 29.

Natalie Neysa Alund is a senior reporter for USA TODAY. Reach her at nalund@usatoday.com and follow her on X @nataliealund.

This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Minnesota trooper charged with homicide in crash that killed teen

Advertisement