SALEM — An arrest warrant has been issued for a man who police say was injured when he crashed a tractor into a South Dakota highway bridge, causing $25,000 in damage, and then left from the scene.
Trevor Gross, 33, of Dell Rapids, has been charged with four misdemeanors in McCook County for a crash that occurred the evening of Dec. 3, on State Highway 38, west of Salem.
A recently filed law enforcement affidavit says a McCook County Sheriff’s deputy received a report of a loud noise coming from the bridge. When the officer arrived, the bridge was “completely blocked by a tractor” that was pulling equipment and there was a tow truck already on scene.
A person at the crash site said another person, identified in court documents as Gross, was driving a large tractor with an industrial dirt scraper considered to be a wide load.
The bridge was posted with a width restriction of 11 feet because it was a temporary, one-lane structure, according to court documents. The width of the scraper is 12 feet, and when Gross allegedly attempted to cross the bridge the scraper struck the bridge railing.
“The force of the sudden impact caused Trevor to be fully ejected from the driver’s side of the tractor cab,” court documents say. “... Trevor was still conscious, he had several large lacerations on his head.” Gross was allegedly picked up and left the scene.
The Highway 38 bridge was a one-lane structure due to damage it received from heavy flooding in the region during September 2019 rainstorms. The crash caused an estimated $25,000 in damage, court documents say.
Officers made contact with Gross “a few days later,” and he “admitted being the driver of the tractor.” He told officers he didn’t go to the hospital because he was concerned about catching COVID-19. During the investigation, the officer determined Gross failed to report the crash to law enforcement and that his driver’s license was canceled prior to the crash.
Gross has been charged with reckless driving, a Class 1 misdemeanor, which is punishable upon conviction by up to one year in prison and a $2,000 fine. He has also been charged with three Class 2 misdemeanors: Movement of wide load during darkness; Failure to obey traffic control device; and driving while license is canceled. Each Class 2 misdemeanor is punishable upon conviction by up to 30 days in prison and a $500 fine.
The bridge was completely closed for about two weeks due to the crash, according to the McCook County Sheriff’s Office. It has since reopened as a one-lane, temporary bridge again.
An official with the South Dakota Department of Transportation on Wednesday told the Mitchell Republic the bridge is likely to be demolished and completely reconstructed this year, with work beginning in the late spring or early summer. The target timeframe to reopen to two lanes of traffic, the official said, is fall 2021.