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UPDATE: Tow truck driver in fatal I-94 crash had license suspended

Published: Jan. 23, 2022 at 10:47 AM CST
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TOWER CITY, N.D. (Valley News Live) - UPDATE: The investigation continues into a fatal crash on I-94 that left a mother of four dead, and three others severely injured.

The crash happened around 9 p.m. on Jan. 22, on I-94 near Tower City.

Officials say 43-year-old Mario Butler was driving a flatbed tow truck, experienced a mechanical issue and stopped in the right lane of the interstate. Butler called for help from another tow truck, but officials say he got a ride from someone else and left his tow truck where it had stopped. Investigators say Butler was driving with a suspended license at the time his tow truck broke down.

Officials say 43-year-old Tim Hagerott crashed into the tow truck, and the impact killed his 43-year-old wife, Kelli, and severely injured himself, as well as both his 14 and 9-year-old daughters. The family was traveling back home to Bismarck from a Minnesota volleyball tournament. Both vehicles came to rest in the north ditch, North Dakota Highway Patrol said. All four passengers were wearing seatbelts at the time of the crash.

While unexpected emergencies can pop up out of nowhere when on the open road, NDHP is preaching three simple rules to keep in mind:

“If you know you’re running out of gas, you have a flat tire, you’re having some sort of mechanical issue with your vehicle, pull over to the shoulder,” Capt. Bryan Niewind with NDHP said.

And once you do that, comes important rule number two:

“If you do still have power in your vehicle, make sure you throw on those hazard lights because people are just not prepared for a car being stopped in the line of traffic. In this case, like this weekend, that’s a 75 mile an hour zone. That’s a very, very violent collision that’s going to happen,” Niewind said.

Niewind says your car most likely isn’t going to stop immediately, and you should have time to pull off out of the traveling lanes. However, Niewind says if that’s not the case for you: Call 911 immediately. He emphasized that there’s no call too small for officers.

“Let law enforcement know what’s going on and where you’re at so we can get people out there immediately,” he said.

Niewind also reminds drivers vehicles can only be parked on the shoulder of a road for 48 hours until they’re considered abandoned and will be towed.

Officials say they expect their reconstruction of the crash and investigation to last into early next week before any potential charges would be announced.

You can follow the Hagerott family’s healing and progress on their Caring Bridge by clicking here.

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