Minn. trooper with ‘ride along’ accused of speeding and causing crash, killing high school senior

Tyler Mitchell By Tyler Mitchell Jul11,2024

ROCHESTER, Minn. (TCN) — Prosecutors recently announced charges against a state trooper who allegedly caused a motor vehicle crash that killed a teen shortly before her high school graduation.

According to the Olmstead County Attorney’s Office, on May 18 at approximately 5:45 p.m., emergency personnel responded to a three-vehicle crash near the Apache Mall. The criminal complaint alleges Shane Roper, a Minnesota State Trooper, pursued a petty traffic offense, activated his emergency lights, and accelerated to 98 mph.

Authorities said as he continued, Roper turned off his emergency lights and “accelerated with a fully engaged throttle,” reaching a speed of 83 mph in less than a quarter mile.

According to the complaint, as a Ford Focus with three occupants went to turn left near the Apache Mall, Roper crashed into the passenger side while driving at 55 mph. Investigators believe Roper was unable to avoid the crash due to his driving speed. The impact also caused a collision with a Toyota Rav4 carrying two occupants.

The driver of the Ford Focus reportedly described “the speed of the oncoming vehicle as ‘a rocket.'”

The rear passenger of the Ford Focus, identified by prosecutors as 18-year-old Olivia Flores, died from blunt force injuries caused in the crash. The driver reportedly sustained a liver laceration, bruised kidney, and other minor injuries. The front passenger of the Ford Focus suffered a broken pelvis, lacerated kidney, and other non-life-threatening injuries, according to the complaint.

Authorities said the occupants inside the Toyota Rav4 “suffered physical pain.”

Roper reportedly had a passenger in his squad car, known as a “ride along,” at the time of the incident.

Several weeks after the crash, Roper allegedly told police he was trying to “close the gap” to catch up to the petty traffic violator. He claimed it was not an active pursuit, according to the complaint.

Roper reportedly told officials he wasn’t paying attention to his speed, and he believed his emergency lights were still on even though witnesses said they were not.

Prosecutors allege Roper sped several other times that day without his emergency lights, reaching a speed of 135 mph at one point and over 99 mph at other times.

According to the attorney’s office, Roper has also attended 13 driving training courses throughout his eight-year career.

The attorney’s office announced charges against Roper on July 9, including one count of second-degree manslaughter –– culpable negligence creating unreasonable risk, one count of criminal vehicular homicide –– operate motor vehicle in grossly negligent manner, three counts of criminal vehicular operation –– substantial bodily harm/gross negligence, two counts of criminal vehicular operation –– bodily harm/gross negligence, one count of reckless driving, and one count of careless driving.

Olmsted County Attorney Mark Ostrem said, “Trooper Roper, violating his duty in such a gross fashion, caused the death of a young lady celebrating her impending graduation from high school.”

In a statement obtained by KTTC-TV, State Patrol Col. Christina Bogojevic said Roper remains on paid investigative leave.

According to her obituary, Flores had been a cheerleader with a “true leader personality.”

Tyler Mitchell

By Tyler Mitchell

Tyler is a renowned journalist with years of experience covering a wide range of topics including politics, entertainment, and technology. His insightful analysis and compelling storytelling have made him a trusted source for breaking news and expert commentary.

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