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UPDATE: Homicide charges filed after fatal crash

Published: Feb. 15, 2021 at 6:20 PM CST
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FARGO, N.D. (Valley News Live) - UPDATE: The man police say is responsible for a deadly crash over the weekend has now been officially charged.

19-year-old Elijah Viestenz is charged with criminal vehicular homicide, negligent duty to give information and aid in a death, minor in consumption or possession and minor in a liquor establishment. Police say 21-year-old Isaiah Johnson was in the car with Viestenz at the time of the single-car crash, was thrown from the passenger seat and died from his injuries.

Viestenz is not yet in custody. Official documents with details of what led up to the Feb. 13 crash are not able to be obtained until Viestenz is booked. Viestenz was admitted to a local hospital soon after the crash. An updated condition is unknown at this time.

Stay with Valley News Live on this developing story.

ORIGINAL STORY 2/15:

A 21-year-old Fargo man is being remembered tonight after police say he was killed in a car crash over the weekend.

It happened at the intersection of Great Northern Dr. and 18th St. N. just after one early Saturday morning when officers found a badly damaged vehicle and Isaiah Johnson, a Fargo South graduate, lying on the ground nearby.

Police say the driver fled the scene and believe alcohol played a factor. On Tuesday, Feb. 16, police identified the driver as 19-year-old Elijah Viestenz of Fargo.

“I just want them to remember him with that smile. That radiant, beaming smile. He always had it,” Becky Johnson, Isaiah’s mother said.

A pile of her son’s shoes at the front door used to be a thorn in Johnson’s side, but now she looks at it and laughs and calls it ‘a light in her darkness.’

“Best kid any parent could ask for. I didn’t deserve to have a kid like him,” Johnson said.

Just 21, Isaiah was working odd jobs and still trying to figure life out.

“But now he’s not ever going to get that chance,” Johnson said.

A 4 a.m. call woke Johnson up Saturday morning as both medical staff and Fargo Police urged her to get to the hospital as fast as she could.

“When the neurosurgeon came out, he wasn’t ok and he wasn’t going to be ok,” she said.

Isaiah was driving with a friend when a crash threw him out of the passenger seat and caused multiple serious injuries including a shattered skull.

“I’m a very forgiving person, but I’m angry. He had a choice and he’s going to have to live with it for the rest of his life, yes, but I don’t get to live with Isaiah for the rest of mine. I held his hand as he took his last breaths,” Johnson said. She said Isaiah has since gone on to save multiple lives through organ donation, specifically his tissues.

Johnson says what’s important now is to focus on the way Isaiah lived.

“He could always make you smile, no matter what. Didn’t matter what kind of mood you were in, he always had something that could make you smile. Either cracking some weird joke or weird dance move. He was always doing something quirky,” Johnson said.

She added Isaiah was the friend everyone wanted to have and should be the friend and person we all now strive to be.

“It didn’t matter who you were, he would befriend you. He would be friends with anybody and everybody, and he took time out of his life to do that,” she said.

“The Family Of Isaiah J Johnson Benefit Fund” has been set up at Bell Bank. Donations can be dropped off at all Bell Bank locations or mailed to Bell Bank, 3100 13th Ave S, Fargo, ND 58103

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