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Trooper charged with five felonies in fatal crash

Olivia Flores, trooper charged, Shane Roper, vehicular homicide
Kay Fate, Staff Writer

Felony charges have been filed in the May 18 crash that caused the death of Owatonna teenager Olivia Flores, 18.

Shane Elroy Roper, 32, of Hayfield, faces one count each of second-degree manslaughter and criminal vehicular homicide, and three counts of criminal vehicular operation, all felonies. He is also charged with two gross misdemeanor counts of criminal vehicular operation and one count of reckless driving, as well as one count of careless driving, a misdemeanor.

He is scheduled to make his first appearance in Olmsted County District Court on Aug. 29.

According to the criminal complaint filed against him, Roper was pursuing a vehicle for an “apparent petty traffic offense” at speeds that reached 98 mph on U.S. Highway 52.

He exited onto eastbound 12th Street Southwest near Apache Mall in Rochester – then reached 83 mph just 1.4 seconds before striking the vehicle in which Flores was a passenger, the complaint says.

While Roper had his emergency lights on as he drove on U.S. 52, he allegedly turned them off when he exited onto 12th Street.

Flores died the next day in a Rochester hospital; five other people were injured – including a passenger in Roper’s squad, who suffered multiple fractures.

A review of his Minnesota State Patrol discipline records, Roper has been involved in four prior crashes “either due to inattentive driving or excessive speed.”

In the three hours leading up to the crash on May 18, he had accelerated to more than 99 mph on numerous occasions for “suspected petty traffic offenses,” including one in which he reached 135 mph in a 55 mph zone on the way to a medical assistance call – with neither lights nor sirens activated.

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