Subscribe for 33¢ / day

A Minot man has reached a plea agreement regarding a fatal Jet Ski accident in June on Strawberry Lake in McLean County.

Dean Bartsch, 41, pleaded guilty to prohibited operation of a personal watercraft, a class B misdemeanor.

On June 9, Bartsch fell off a Jet Ski he was driving on Strawberry Lake, and the vehicle collided with an inflatable tube carrying two 10-year-old girls, Haley Sundsbak, of Des Lacs, and Abby Mikkelson, of Minot. Sundsbak died and Mikkelson was critically injured.

The collision was investigated by the McLean County Sheriff's Department and the North Dakota Game and Fish Department.

According to a McLean County case report, Bartsch reportedly told investigators he had the engine cutoff lanyard in his hand while operating the Jet Ski and not attached to him.

North Dakota law requires a lanyard-type engine cutoff switch to be "attached to an individual, clothing or personal flotation device of the operator, if the personal watercraft is equipped by the manufacturer with such a device."

Bartsch waived his right to appear in court last week for his plea hearing and sentencing.

Under the plea agreement, Bartsch must pay a fine and court costs totaling $475 within 60 days. He was sentenced to one year unsupervised probation and a deferred imposition of sentence, meaning if he commits no criminal offenses in that time, his guilty plea will be withdrawn and the case will be dismissed.

Bartsch's attorney, Erich Grant, did not respond to an email request for comment.

Subscribe to Daily Headlines

* I understand and agree that registration on or use of this site constitutes agreement to its user agreement and privacy policy.

(Reach Blair Emerson at 701-250-8251 or


Education and Health Reporter