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Witness Avoided Deadly SF Crash By Seconds

January 11, 2013, 5:58 PM by Ben Dunsmoor

Witness Avoided Deadly SF Crash By Seconds

One person is dead after a high speed car crash in a central Sioux Falls neighborhood.

Witnesses say the car was going nearly 60 miles per hour when it hit a tree just after 10 p.m. Thursday night.

The driver, 26-year-old Chaske Warner of Sioux Falls, died. Four others were injured, including two with life threatening injuries.

The crash happened at the intersection of Holly Avenue and Oak Street near the 26th and Western neighborhood in central Sioux Falls.

Travis Oehlke lives in the neighborhood and witnessed the crash.

"Maybe five seconds earlier and he would have 'T-boned' me and my driver's side would have been against that tree," Oehlke said.

Oehlke lives a half block from the crash site and was driving home Thursday night after a meeting with his contractor about his home remodeling project when he saw the deadly collision. As he was driving up to the intersection of Holly Avenue and Oak Street, the entire crash unfolded right in front of him. Oehlke says the car was going fast and it happened in a flash.

"I would say at least 60 (miles per hour). It was just a streak and a smash and I could hear the engine roaring all the way through," Oehlke said.

Oehlke says the car never slowed down.

Police believe the crash is the result of a deadly mix of drinking and driving, speed and not wearing any seat belts.

"The big thing I think is probably alcohol. If people hadn't been drinking and got behind the wheel then this crash wouldn't have happened," Sioux Falls Police Officer Sam Clemens said.

Shortly after the crash a 23-year-old Sioux Falls man got out of the car and ran two blocks down the street. When police caught up with him, they found out he was on parole and they took him back to the penitentiary.

Oehlke saw that take place too.

"I ran down a block and saw him crossing the street again and we got some officers down there and they got him in the back yard," Oehlke said.

And while Oehlke feels fortunate that he didn't get caught in the crash, he hopes it's the only time he'll be able to tell a story like this again.

"I've never seen anything like that. I don't want to see anything like that again. It was horrific. That was a bad impact," Oehlke said.

Investigators did reconstruct the scene of the crash and police say they should have an idea of exactly how fast the car was going at the time of impact.

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