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One dead in crash involving Pierce County jail van

By Sue Sitter - | Aug 14, 2021

One person is dead and three are injured after a prisoner transport van belonging to Heart of America Correctional and Treatment center collided with another vehicle at a highway intersection in rural Sheridan County Aug. 4.

A statement released by the North Dakota Highway Patrol said the black 2015 Ford Expedition van used to transport a prisoner to Bismarck was returning to Rugby, traveling north on North Dakota Highway 14 between McClusky and Goodrich at approximately 11 a.m.

The second vehicle in the collision, a silver 2014 GMC Savana, was traveling west on N.D. Highway 200.

According to the NDHP, the transport vehicle did not stop at a stop sign at the intersection of the two highways and struck the left side of the Savana. The Savana overturned, ejecting its passenger.

The driver, Jerry Evenson, 78, of Tacoma, Wash., and the passenger, Philemena Evenson, 81, also of Tacoma, were transported to St. Alexius Hospital, Bismarck, where doctors pronounced Philemena Evenson dead. Jerry Evenson was hospitalized with serious injuries.

The NDHP statement indicated Philemena Evenson was not wearing a seat belt at the time of the crash.

The transport van driver, Geraldine Miller, 58, Towner, corrections officer Michael Jacobs, 31, Esmond, and inmate Alejandro Zavala Fernandez, 36, all received treatment at hospitals in Harvey and Rugby for non-life threatening injuries.

Mike Graner, administrator at HACTC said Miller “was brought to the Harvey hospital, was admitted for observation but has since been released and has returned home and is recovering at home.”

Graner said Jacobs “did not seek out immediate medical care. He was checked out later that evening at the Harvey hospital.”

“The offender that was in the vehicle at the time was transported to the Rugby hospital for services. Everything checked out and he was returned that same day to our facility,” Graner added.

“Our hearts and prayers go out to the family of the individual who lost their life and of course, to our staff members who were involved. It was just a terrible, tragic accident that took place,” Graner said.

The crash remains under investigation by the NDHP.

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