A Virginia man accused of driving drunk and crashing with a party bus in Morton County faces a felony charge stemming from the wreck and another felony charge for failing to register as a sex offender.
James Frank Warner Jr., 31, was charged Monday with Class C felony reckless endangerment, Class A misdemeanor driving under the influence causing serious bodily injury, Class A misdemeanor unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and Class B misdemeanor driving under revocation. Those charges all were in relation to an early Saturday morning bus crash on Highway 1806.
Warner also was charged with Class C felony failure to register as a sex offender.
South Central District Judge Bruce Romanick set bond for Warner at $50,000 cash. If released on bond, Warner must participate in the 24/7 Sobriety Program, which includes twice-daily breath tests for alcohol.
The Morton County Sheriff’s Department said Warner was driving a pickup southbound on Highway 1806 when he drove in the wrong lane and hit a northbound Nightlife Limousine party bus containing 24 people. A northbound car collided with the pickup shortly after the initial crash, a few miles south of Fort Lincoln State Park.
Morton County Sgt. Tad Pritchett wrote in an affidavit that 17 people had to be transported to Bismarck hospitals for injuries. Mandan Rural Fire Department and Metro Ambulance responded to the crash. The North Dakota Highway Patrol is working with the sheriff’s department on the investigation.
According to Pritchett’s affidavit, Warner had been living in Flasher since April 27 and worked briefly for a Shields man, who owned the pickup Warner was driving. The Shields man told officers he had fired Warner, and Warner did not have permission to drive the pickup.
Pritchett told the Tribune over the weekend there were warrants for Warner’s arrest out of Virginia for failure to register as a violent sex offender and probation violations.
According to the Virginia Sex Offender Registry, Warner was convicted on July 7, 2008, of 10 counts of carnal knowledge of a child 13 to 15 years old. The registry labeled him as a violent. He was on probation and was wanted, according to the registry. His address on the registry was in Eggleston, Va., and he was listed as unemployed.