Suspect arrested in 1-90 Highway death

Iowa troopers arrested David Welk Thursday night, ending a week-long, multi-state manhunt for the semi truck driver who authorities believe struck and killed an elderly Alaska man on Interstate 90 in September.

Welk, 45, of Minnesota, was arrested just outside of Grundy Center, Iowa, about 15 miles west of Waterloo. He is in the custody of Grundy County authorities on a $250,000 bond, said Sheriff Rick Penning. Welk appeared in court Friday morning and waived extradition to Montana.

Iowa State Patrol Trooper David Goreham said Friday morning that Welk was arrested around 8:20 p.m. Montana Highway Patrol received confirmation of his arrest by 9 p.m., said Trooper Joe Hensley.

Montana Highway Patrol will transport Welk from Iowa, said Sweet Grass County Sheriff Dan Tronrud on Friday. He will likely be held at Gallatin County Detention Center.

Authorities believe Welk was driving a semi truck westbound on Interstate 90 between Big Timber and Greycliff when he struck and killed 81-year-old Elgie Bedford, of Wasilla, Alaska, early on Sept. 30, 2013. Bedford's car was found on the eastbound side of the highway and he appeared to be walking on the westbound side when he was hit.

Welks' co-driver, Michael Karls, called Montana Highway Patrol Oct. 25 after he said he found reports of Bedford's death online. He told investigators he was in the sleeper berth of the truck Welk was driving when it collided with something, according to court filings in Sweet Grass County.

Welk was yelling and told Karls, "I just hit someone," the court documents state.

The Sweet Grass County Sheriff's Office issued a warrant for Welk's arrest on Jan. 17. He is charged with leaving the scene of a fatal accident, a felony. Prosecutors say Welk knew — or should have known — Bedford was dead.

Welk has no permanent address, which made him hard to find at first, Hensley told The Livingston Enterprise this week. It took a while to find a photo of Welk as well, Hensley said Friday.

The break came around 7 p.m. on Thursday, Hensley said. He was tracking Welk's cell phone and alerted Iowa state authorities.

"It worked out pretty well," Hensley said Friday.

Goreham was one of the Iowa state troopers who arrested Welk. They were notified of Welk's location, he said Friday morning, but knew only that he was driving a semi with a refrigerated trailer — there was no information about model or color of the truck.

Troopers set up at the intersection of Iowa state highways 14 and 20 north of Grundy Center, where an overhead light illuminated the onramp from 14 onto 20. There, they watched for the refrigerated truck, Goreham said.

Once they got Welk out of the truck and confirmed his warrant, he was taken into custody, Goreham said.

If convicted, Welk could be sentenced to one to 10 years in a state prison and ordered to pay a maximum $50,000 fine.