A young Watford City woman died Tuesday night in a two-vehicle collision about one mile north of Grassy Butte on Highway 85, a heavily trafficked road that runs through the oil patch and the Badlands.
Amy Marie Svihovec, 23, was driving a vehicle that collided head-on with a sport utility vehicle coming the other direction.
The Highway Patrol says icy roads could have contributed to the crash, which remains under investigation.
A passenger with Svihovec and the occupants of the other vehicle, including an infant, were taken to area hospitals and their conditions are unknown, the patrol said.
Concerns about traffic safety throughout the oil patch are highlighted by the accident, which is the second in several months to claim a life on that particular stretch of highway.
Connie Wold, 46, of Watford City died in August when a semi truck driver turned off Highway 85 into an intersection she was pedaling through while training for an athletic competition.
Svihovec was a 2004 Watford City High School graduate and had been living in Denver.
Her mother, Linda Svihovec, is the McKenzie County treasurer, and county auditor Francis Olson said Wednesday was a very somber day in the courthouse.
“We’re all walking around here not knowing what to do,” Olson said.
Linda Svihovec had participated Tuesday in a meeting with Department of Transportation officials and others regarding a phase one study of Highway 85, which is being promoted to become a super two-lane highway as part of a much longer Theodore Roosevelt Expressway.
As part of her duties, she handles permits for overweight and oversized trucks for oil-producing counties.
The highway has depressed wheel tracks where water collects.
Cal Klewin of Bowman is heading up the expressway concept for North Dakota and also was at the meeting.
“This shows our expressway association needs to keep moving forward on safety concerns and take a look at the potential increase in traffic from tourism and energy,” he said. “This is getting out of hand.”
Klewin said people are avoiding Highway 85. “If there’s another route, they’ll take it,” he said.
Elsewhere in the oil patch, accident deaths have occurred along Highway 23 in the New Town and Parshall vicinity. There, Three Affiliated Tribes Chairman Marcus Levings has met with local and state highway officials to start talks about turning the two-lane into a four-lane to prevent future fatalities as oil activity increases.
Amy Svihovec’s funeral arrangements are being handled by Fulkerson Funeral Home of Watford City.