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Janklow 'couldn't be sorrier' about fatal wreck

South Dakota congressman ponders future

Rep. William Janklow, a Republican, is a former governor of South Dakota.
Rep. William Janklow, a Republican, is a former governor of South Dakota.

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Bill Janklow
South Dakota

(CNN) -- South Dakota congressman Bill Janklow said Monday he "couldn't be sorrier" about a fatal auto accident in August left him facing manslaughter charges.

He said he has considered resigning, but will return to Washington.

Janklow said he would give up South Dakota's sole seat in the House of Representatives if he thought he could no longer represent the state effectively.

"I don't know what's appropriate at this time, candidly, and I do give it a lot of thought," he told reporters at a news conference Monday in Sioux Falls. "There's things more important than politics to me."

Prosecutors accuse Janklow, 64, of speeding and failing to obey a stop sign in the August 16 accident that killed motorcyclist Randolph E. Scott, 53, of Hardwick, Minnesota, at a rural intersection near Janklow's hometown of Flandreau.

The wreck left Janklow with a small break in his right hand, partial paralysis in his left leg, and some bleeding in his brain that has caused difficulty concentrating and memory problems -- troubles his office blamed for his referring to the victim's family by the wrong name during his news conference.

But he said, "What happened to me is not significant, because physically I will heal up 100 percent."

Janklow, a Republican, was elected to Congress in 2002 after serving four terms as governor. He said South Dakotans "will wait until the facts are in before they make up their minds" about him.

He is charged with second-degree manslaughter, a felony, and three misdemeanors -- reckless driving, failing to stop at a stop sign and driving over 70 mph in a 55 mph zone. If convicted, he could face up to 10 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Janklow said there is "no way I know to express the sadness and the sorrow and the grief" he feels after the accident, but would not discuss the wreck due to the pending case against him.

He bristled at reporters who questioned him about his driving record, which included 13 traffic citations since 1990, but said he has not driven since the accident.

-- CNN Congressional Producer Ted Barrett contributed to this report.

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