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S.D. Congressman May Face Crash Charges

August 20, 2003 GMT

HARDWICK, Minn. (AP) _ In a church overflowing with mourners Wednesday, the Rev. Mark Mumme eulogized a motorcyclist killed in a crash involving Rep. Bill Janklow and said the South Dakota congressman would carry the guilt with him for a long time.

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

He said he had spoken with Janklow, and he urged friends of the victim to trust the investigation into the Saturday afternoon crash near Trent, S.D., that killed Randy E. Scott, 55.

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Prosecutor William Ellingson said preliminary reports indicated that Janklow, South Dakota’s only U.S. House member and a former four-term governor, ran a stop sign, and Scott’s motorcycle hit the side of his Cadillac.

No criminal charges had been filed Wednesday afternoon, though Janklow’s son, Russ Janklow, said his father was anticipating legal action.

``You go through a stop sign, you expect to be charged,″ Russ Janklow said in a telephone interview. ``He isn’t expecting he’s going to be treated any differently than anyone else would be in these circumstances.″

The 63-year-old congressman injured his head, fractured his hand and was unconscious for a short time after the crash, Russ Janklow 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.

Ellingson said Wednesday that he had no timetable for pressing charges, saying, ``That process cannot and should not be rushed.″

Depending on the circumstances, charges could range from vehicular homicide, which involves alcohol or drugs, to a misdemeanor such as careless driving.

Janklow’s son said Wednesday that his father does not drink. ``Alcohol wasn’t even a factor in this thing,″ he said. Janklow has, however, been known for driving fast, including picking up 12 speeding tickets from 1990 to October 1994, just before he began his second stint as governor.

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In Scott’s hometown of Hardwick, population 222, more than 375 people jammed into the Zion Evangelical Lutheran Church for the funeral Wednesday. They packed the sanctuary and overflowed into the church basement, where a closed-circuit television screen showed the service.

An estimated 1,000 people had attended a visitation service Tuesday evening for Scott, a farmer, Vietnam veteran and volunteer firefighter.

``Randy was a man who knew everyone,″ Mumme said. ``He knew the rich and poor, the prominent and the no names.″

Scott had recently purchased the Harley-Davidson motorcycle he was riding Saturday. He and another man were on a ride that included attending a birthday party for his ex-father-in-law, said friend Don Bryan of Hardwick.

At 6-foot-6 and with an outgoing, ``ultra friendly″ personality, it was hard not to notice Scott, Bryan said.

It seemed like he knew someone wherever he went or would make it a point to meet someone, he said. ``I would go with him to Sioux Falls or Sioux City and he’d walk into a room and some guy would come up and know him.″