BARNES COUNTY, N.D.—Kelli Hagerott, a 43-year-old mother of four daughters, lost her life Jan. 22 in a horrific car accident on Interstate 94.
The accident occurred about two miles east of Tower City in the right lane of westbound I-94. Local authorities said 42-year-old Timothy Hagerott was driving a 2017 GMC Yukon westbound on the interstate with his wife and two daughters when the vehicle struck a 1997 International flatbed tow truck that was stalled and unoccupied in the right lane.
The collision forced both vehicles into a ditch along the interstate.
Kelli Hagerott was pronounced dead at the scene of the accident. Timothy Hagerott and their two daughters, 14-year-old Adisyn and 9-year-old Alisyn, were transported to Sanford Hospital in Fargo with serious injuries. All are residents of Bismarck and were wearing seat belts at the time of the crash, according to local authorities.
Authorities said the driver of the flatbed tow truck, 45-year-old Mario Betler, of Minot, called another tow truck to have the vehicle towed before the accident occurred, but a passing motorist gave him a ride away from the scene before the tow truck arrived. It is unclear why the broken-down tow truck remained in the driving lane.
The investigation into the accident is ongoing, and no additional information has been released.
Thoughts on the Tragic Accident in Barnes County
This is a case of negligence on the part of the tow truck driver and operator. The facts have not been developed enough to fully determine fault. However, from what has been provided, the tow truck driver left his vehicle in an unsafe location without any warning to fellow motorists. Experience has taught me that a driver that leaves his vehicle has something to hide. The operator’s acts will need to be examined to understand what caused such reckless behavior.
Likewise, the acts of the tow company need to be investigated. Employers have a duty to ensure equipment is properly maintained and serviced. Mechanical failure can result from actions outside the control of the employer. However, proper repair and maintenance can prevent most machinal issues from occurring. I have worked on several cases across the nation presenting nearly identical facts that resulted in similar outcomes. In many of those cases, proper maintenance and repair would have prevented the accident from occurring.
I am also interested in the safety policies of the tow company. Commercial accidents can often be avoided when employees are adequately trained in high-risk situations. This is a high-risk situation that needed training and instruction. I find it alarming that the driver left the vehicle after contacting dispatch. Leaving the vehicle with a fellow employee in route suggests that the driver was not trained for this type of situation.
These are a few thoughts I have based on the preliminary reports provided. Of course, further information is needed before any firm conclusions can be drawn. I extend my deepest condolences to the Hagerott family and hope for their solace during this challenging time of grief.
Disclaimer: All the information in this post is from third-party sources or constitutes my opinion. If you find these posts offensive or identify misleading information, the issue will be corrected. This post is not legal advice and not a solicitation for business.