Crash kills 1
North Dakota’s Senate Republican majority leader was killed Monday afternoon in a one-vehicle accident on the Sterling Highway.
Alaska State Troopers spokeswoman Megan Peters confirmed that Robert Stenehjem died as a result of the one-car rollover accident at Mile 104.2 of the Sterling Highway, south of Soldotna.
Peters did not know the identities of the three passengers other than Stenehjem.
Stenehjem, 59, had been on a halibut fishing vacation near Homer. He had been visiting his older brother, John, and his son, Rob, both of whom live in Alaska, said North Dakota Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem, who is Bob Stenehjem’s brother.
Rob Stenehjem was being treated for a broken arm, Wayne Stenehjem said. Daniel Stenehjem, 11, who is Rob’s son and the senator’s grandson, was treated and released with minor injuries, according to Central Peninsula Hospital spokeswoman Bonnie Nichols.
Another man was in the car, but Wayne Stenehjem did not know his identity or condition. In a statement, Nichols said an additional passenger sustained multiple injuries and was taken to surgery.
The accident partially closed the highway while it was cleared. Motorists were advised to avoid the area if at all possible by taking Kalifornsky Beach Road.
Bob Stenehjem was first elected to the North Dakota Senate in 1992. He represented District 30, which includes parts of south Bismarck and rural Burleigh County. He was up for re-election in 2012 and had said he intended to seek another term.
He was elected the Republican majority leader in 2001, after his predecessor, Casselton Sen. Gary Nelson, resigned to accept a federal appointment as state director of the federal Farm Service Agency.
Stenehjem worked as the city of Bismarck’s road and streets foreman, and his legislative interests reflected his background. He was chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, and intimately involved in legislative debates about how the state should pay for road construction and upkeep.
He sponsored legislation that set out a proposed tax and regulatory framework for oil drilling on the Fort Berthold Indian Reservation, where oil exploration in a booming area had been tepid. The bill led to an agreement between the tribe and state that touched off a rapid expansion of oil production.
Wayne Stenehjem said funeral arrangements for his brother were pending. Bob Stenehjem is survived by his wife, Kathy, and four children.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.