Mike Lang

Mike Lang ate snowcones with his daughter in 2013. 


Circumstances of a Burleigh-Morton County Detention Center inmate's death are still unclear three weeks after he died.

Michael Lang, 47, of Mandan, died Sept. 13 at Sanford Medical Center. His family said he went into a coma following a seizure at the jail and was taken off life support in an intensive care unit after a week in the hospital and days of testing.

Kristina Kratz, Lang's ex-wife, visited the hospital with their daughter and her husband. She said Lang had pneumonia as well as a cut on the back of his head, a broken nose, broken cheek bones and broken ribs.

Lang hadn't had a seizure since 2009, so it was "out of the blue" to happen now, according to Kratz. When they spoke the day before his hospitalization, he told her his blood sugar was low. He was a type 2 diabetic, she added.

"He seemed OK for the most part, but he was a little shaky," Kratz said, adding she gave him money for a snack and made plans to visit again with their daughter.

At 5:30 a.m. Sept. 6, Lang had a medical situation while sitting on his bunk to eat breakfast, Maj. Steve Hall said.

"It was a medical event that wasn't caused by anybody else," Hall said. "He was having difficulty breathing, and we had to clear his airway and perform CPR."

Hall also said Lang was breathing on his own when he left the jail.

Kratz said her ex-husband notoriously never ate breakfast. She also said he wasn't breathing when brought to ICU, and he couldn't breathe on his own while there.

EMTs broke his ribs during CPR, but how he sustained his face injuries is unknown, she said.

"He either smarted off to somebody because his blood sugar was low and he didn't want to give up his food, because, if he just fell off his bunk and he just cracked his head open, where did the broken nose and cheek bones come from?" Kratz said.

Weeks after his death, Lang's family said they want the whole story.

"I want to know the truth about what happened and what the coroner said," Kratz said. "My 8-year-old has a right to know what happened to her father."

Kratz said it's been difficult for her daughter to understand the situation. She did see her father in ICU, she added. Lang had recently re-entered their daughter's life before his arrest.

Lang's parents also want to know the full facts.

"We want to see the autopsy report," said Mary Jo Lang, his mother.

"And we'd also like to know what happened," said his father, Erwin. "The truth. That's the main thing."

Kratz described her ex-husband as a helpful guy, a good worker and a father of four who loved his children.

Lang had been in jail after his arrest in August on felony luring. The case has since been dismissed due to his death.

Hall said Wednesday the outside investigation into Lang's death has not yet furnished a report.

Without Lang's medical records or any reports, he said he couldn't speak to how Lang sustained his face injuries. He also said he wasn't aware if Lang had been in a fight before his hospitalization.

Hall previously said upon Lang's hospitalization, custody reverted to Morton County, the arresting agency.

Maxine Herr, the county's spokeswoman, referred questions to the North Dakota Bureau of Criminal Investigation.

Liz Brocker, spokeswoman for the attorney general's office, declined to comment, citing BCI media rules.

Steven Balaban, Lang's attorney, also declined to comment on his client's death.

The North Dakota Medical Examiner's Office did not return messages seeking information about Lang's death.

Reach Jack Dura at 701-250-8225 or jack.dura@bismarcktribune.com.