A Texas man is facing a felony manslaughter charge that could mean a 10-year sentence in prison after a trailer he was pulling with a big farm tractor on Interstate 90 on Friday was rear-ended by a minivan, killing the van driver.
Jason Anthony Ingram, 31, of Kempner, Texas, was driving a Case Versatile 305 tractor west on I-90 just east of Alexandria, South Dakota, a town that is 60 miles west of Sioux Falls.
Just before noon on Friday, Sept. 6, a westbound 2001 Dodge Caravan rear-ended the hose trailer, according to the Highway Patrol trooper who responded to the scene and arrested Ingram.
Johnnie Hines, 52, of Sioux Falls was driving the van and was killed in the crash, according to the Highway Patrol report. He was not wearing a seat belt.
In most cases of rear-end crashes, the vehicle that rear-ends the other is at fault.
But in this case, Ingram should not have been driving the farm tractor on the Interstate, said Tony Mangan, spokesman for the state Highway Patrol.
The relatively slow road speeds and girth and width of big farm tractors typically means they generally aren’t legal on interstate highways, Mangan said. The minimum legal speed limit on interstates typically is 40 mph in good conditions, which is faster than farm tractors generally can travel.
Patrol Trooper Tori Gordon said she arrived on the scene Friday to find the maroon Dodge van in the west driving lane of I-90 “with extensive front-end damage,” according to her affidavit of probable cause filed in the Hanson County clerk of court’s office in Alexandria on Monday.
“I observed a farm tractor in the shoulder just to the west of the van and a hose trailer in the north ditch to the west of the van. The hose trailer had no flashing lights or slow-moving signs.”
An emergency medical team pronounced Hines dead at the scene, she said.
Gordon said Ingram gave her a valid Texas drivers license. He told her that he was westbound “in the shoulder of I-90 near mile marker 346 when he was rear-ended,” Gordon said in her affidavit. That would be about 2 miles east of Alexandria.
Ingram said he was traveling from a farm near Viborg to one near Wolsey, working for Boehnke Waste Handling from Marietta, Minnesota, Gordon said.
The company hauls manure from livestock farms according to its website.
Marietta is about 42 miles east of Watertown, South Dakota, just a couple miles into Minnesota.
Gordon said she asked Ingram about lights on the “hose trailer,” which apparently is a trailer that holds long lengths of hose used to pump liquid manure out of livestock farm pits.
Ingram said the trailer had “taillights,” Gordon said. “I asked him about any additional lights. He stated that he didn’t want to answer any further questions. I placed Mr. Ingram under arrest for reckless driving and manslaughter-2nd degree.”
Gordon said when Ingram was booked into the Davison County Jail in Mitchell, he was given a test that showed no alcohol in his blood.
The second-degree manslaughter charge is a Class 4 felony carrying a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison if Ingram were convicted. The reckless driving charge is a Class 1 misdemeanor, with a top sentence of a year in jail.
Ingram bailed out of the Davison County jail in Mitchell — which handles inmates for Hanson County — and is slated to appear in court later, court officers said.
The tractor is a medium-sized, red four-wheel-drive machine with 305 horsepower. Case Versatile tractors are made in Winnipeg.
Ingram was described by Gordon as 5 feet, 9 inches tall and 250 pounds.
Kempner is a town of about 1,300 people in central Texas between Dallas and Austin.