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‘Difficult days ahead’: Boys, ages 4 and 15, still recovering after surviving triple-fatal crash on I-29

Reeve Avila, 4, is in a coma at Sanford Medical Center in Fargo. Special to The Forum1 / 2
Connor Radtke, left, 15, of West Fargo, has been released from the intensive care unit at Essentia Health in Fargo following a triple-fatal crash near Hankinson, N.D. Special to The Forum2 / 2

FARGO – A 4-year-old and 15-year-old, both seriously injured in a triple-fatal crash near Hankinson, N.D., are showing signs of improving health, according to updates from family friends.

Reeve Avila, 4, of Fargo, who lost his mother and 5-year-old sister in the Sunday, July 15, crash, has been in a medically-induced coma at Sanford Medical Center. He suffered fractures in his skull and in both legs, family friend Elena Vazquez said.

He underwent surgery on his legs Wednesday, July 18, after doctors determined the swelling on his brain had subsided enough to operate, Vazquez said.

With the success of the surgery, medical staff told the family the boy could be taken out of the coma within the next couple of days, she said.


Reeve Avila was driving with his mother, Flor Avila, 24, and his sister, Kayleen Avila, 5, on Sunday, when they were struck head-on by a pickup truck.

The truck, driven by 15-year-old Connor Radtke, of West Fargo, was headed south when the vehicle went off the edge of Interstate 29, five miles south of Hankinson, according to the North Dakota Highway Patrol.

Radtke overcorrected and lost control of the vehicle, crossed the median and collided head-on with the Avila’s northbound car, the patrol said.

Radtke was injured and taken to Essentia Health. His passenger and father, James Radtke, 45, died at the scene, along with Flor and Kayleen Avila, the patrol said.

Connor Radtke has been released from the intensive care unit “and can begin the process of recovering from his injuries,” according to the most recent update on the GoFundMe page created for the family.

“There will be difficult days ahead for those touched by the tragedy of this accident,” wrote Jennifer Wilson, creator of the page and friend of James Radtke’s wife, Lisa. “Let us provide some strength during adversity that James always provided to Lisa.”

James Radtke’s funeral is set for 10 a.m. Monday, July 23, at Calvary United Methodist Church in Fargo. Burial will be 3:30 p.m. Monday at Milbank Cemetery in Milbank, S.D.

Vazquez said Reeve Avila will have to undergo more procedures in the future. The fractures in his leg were close to the growth plate, and as he grows, one leg could become longer than the other, she said.

“We have our fingers crossed that he keeps healing the way he does. Everyone is praying hard that we get to hold onto this little boy and don’t lose him,” Vazquez said. “Right now, he’s our hope. Reeve is our lifeline right now.”

Donations to the Radtke family can be made here:

Donations to the Avila family can be made here: