Truck Driver Charged with Manslaughter in Tent Fatalities
A North Dakota man accused of killing two young brothers from Texas when he drove over their tent at a campground after losing control of his speeding pickup truck was charged Monday (July 9) with manslaughter and drunken driving.
The driver, Juan Acosta, 30, is also charged with reckless endangerment and unauthorized use of a motor vehicle, Bottineau County Prosecutor Swain Benson told The Associated Press.
Acosta was arrested after the Sunday crash at the Hahn’s Bay Campground at Lake Metigoshe in Bottineau, near the Canadian border. The accident also injured the children’s father and another boy.
“He was driving too fast on a campground road, lost control and ran over the tent and crashed into a tree,” Highway Patrol Trooper Capt. Gary Orluck said.
The crash killed 5-year-old Alaries Ruiz and his 9-year-old brother, Cyris Ruiz. Their 28-year-old father, Juan Ruiz, was flown to a hospital in Minot, 85 miles southwest of the campground, where he was treated for serious but not life-threatening injuries, Orluck said. The boys’ friend, 9-year-old Anthony Tabarez Jr., of Newburg, has minor injuries, he said.
Acosta, also of Newburg, was being held in the Bottineau County jail Monday and is expected to appear in court today. Benson didn’t immediately know if Acosta had an attorney, and there was no answer Monday evening at a phone listing for him.
The brothers had traveled from their home in El Paso, Texas, to visit their father who worked in the oil patch region of North Dakota. Their bodies were sent to Bismarck for autopsies and their mother, Sandy Hernandez, was heading to North Dakota on Monday.
Orluck said Ruiz knew the driver of the truck who, along with his two passengers, had been staying at the campsite too.
“We have an indication that they were all camping together and all parties were at least acquaintances,” Orluck said.
The campground is located less than two miles from the Canadian border, and within the Turtle Mountain State Forest, a 12-square-mile parcel that is among the most-wooded areas of North Dakota, a prairie state.
State Forester Larry Kotchman said the 25-unit campground was closed immediately after the crash.
“We are deeply saddened by this. It is very tragic,” Kotchman said.