Minnesota trooper charged in crash that killed 18-year-old

Updated

A Minnesota State Patrol trooper who is accused of speeding without lights or sirens on before he killed an 18-year-old in a crash was charged Tuesday with manslaughter and vehicular homicide.

Trooper Shane Roper was “driving recklessly and without regard to very basic rules of the road” when he crashed into a Ford Focus and killed Olivia Flores in Rochester in May, Olmsted County Attorney Mark Ostrem said.

Criminal charges of second-degree manslaughter and criminal vehicular homicide, as well as other counts of criminal vehicular operation, were filed Tuesday, Ostrem said.

The deadly crash happened at around 5:44 p.m. on May 18 near a mall in Rochester, a city of around 121,000 in the southeastern part of the state. Authorities alleged he was driving 83 mph in a 40 mph zone shortly before the crash.

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

rochester, minnesota crash teen killed teenager driver (KTTC)
rochester, minnesota crash teen killed teenager driver (KTTC)

Roper, 32, was on duty and had stopped on a highway entrance ramp doing traffic enforcement when he sped off “after observing an apparent petty traffic offense,” a Rochester police officer wrote in an affidavit that is part of the criminal complaint.

Roper then exited the highway and was driving 83 mph in a 40 mph zone eastbound on 12th Street SW as he approached an intersection that leads to the Apache Mall, police said in the document.

A Ford Focus going in the other direction tried to turn left toward the mall when it and Roper had the green light, at which point Roper crashed into the Focus' passenger side, authorities said.

Flores, who was in the back seat of the Focus, died of her injuries. Ostrem, the prosecutor, said Roper was driving in a “grossly negligent manner” by driving that fast in a busy roadway for a petty traffic offense.

Witnesses described Roper's car as "flying," and no one reported hearing sirens or seeing lights, police wrote in the affidavit.

The criminal complaint and a statement by Olmsted announcing the filing of criminal charges does not specify what the "petty traffic offense" was.

Roper told police investigating the crash that he believed his lights were on, the Rochester police officer wrote in the affidavit.

"Roper said he attempted to 'clear' the intersection prior to entering it," the officer wrote in the document. The affidavit says a large SUV going the same direction as Roper that had entered the left turn lane "at least partially obstructed" the view of the left turn lane where the Focus was.

Roper could not be reached for comment Tuesday evening. Court records did not show an attorney for him. A first court appearance was scheduled for Aug. 29.

The State Patrol did not immediately respond to a request for comment Tuesday evening. The Associated Press, citing a patrol spokesperson, reported that Roper is on paid leave.

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