Sioux Falls schools mourn loss and injury of students in east side crash

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, S.D. (KELO) — Family and friends are mourning the loss of two Sioux Falls students. Two of their friends remain in the hospital.

Late Saturday night, they were in a crash that could have happened to anyone. The students had a green light and had just pulled into the intersection at Arrowhead Parkway and Highline Avenue when they were hit. Investigators say the driver of the other car was traveling at a high rate of speed and ran a red light.

Police have a good idea of what happened just before midnight on Saturday night. The crash was captured by a traffic camera at the intersection of Arrowhead parkway and Highline Avenue.

20-year-old Pascal Niyonkuru and 17-year-old Javier Valesquez were both killed as they were leaving the Dawley Farm Buffalo Wild Wings – where Valesquez worked. Niyonkuru attended Joe Foss and Valesquez was a junior at Washington High School.

Investigators say the vehicle driven by Valesquez had a green light and was just entering the intersection when a Subaru ran a red light and slammed into the driver’s side. A witness told authorities they believe the Subaru may have been going around 100 miles an hour.

“Speed is definitely a factor in this one, I saw some pictures of the cars and it was total devastation that’s the only way to describe that,” said police spokesman Sam Clemens.

Two passengers in the back seat, 17-year-old Cardin Lu and a 16-year-old boy from Sioux Falls were taken to the hospital with serious injuries. Lu and Valesquez were classmates at Washington High School. Principal Kari Papki sent a message to parents last night. In part, it read,

“Sad news such as this can cause a range of emotions in all of us. Counselors will be available tomorrow and for as long as needed to meet with students and staff as they process the loss and the injuries of classmates.”

The driver of the Suburu is hospitalized with life-threatening injuries. The passenger of that vehicle suffered serious injuries. Both are 23 years old. Investigators say right now there is no indication of drugs or alcohol, but toxicology screenings are being done. Clemens also says the crash reconstruction is not a fast process and could take weeks. He says they are also looking for other witnesses who saw the crash Saturday night.

“There were other vehicles that witnessed this accident but then left before police arrived so what we’d ask is that anybody that witnessed that accident that they call the police just so we can get their information as well,” said Clemens.

Once the accident reconstruction is done, the information will be given to the Minnehaha County States Attorney’s office to see if any charges will be filed.

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