Casselton nurse hit by deputy at red light faces legal roadblock to securing more damages

CASSELTON, N.D. — A McKenzie County deputy on an emergency call went through a red light in Watford City and crashed into Amanda Mitchell, of Casselton . Amanda is now home, but the recovery will be long and complicated, in part because of a North Dakota law.

Just four weeks ago, Amanda was driving her car in Watford City, where she was working as a new nurse practitioner. A county deputy on a call went through a red light and hit Amanda. The crash left her in a coma and on a ventilator.

"All of a sudden, I had to be intubated and I didn't know anything until I was extubated four days later, and I'd say I look a lot better than I feel," Amanda said.

You wouldn't know it by looking at her, but the 34-year-old wife and mother is lucky to be up and around after surviving the crash.

"We didn't know if she'd be able to wake up and talk," said Amanda's husband, Ken Mitchell. "We didn't know anything, and by God's grace, she's here with us today, and I am very thankful for that."


The problems Amanda faces now are brain bleeds and trauma to her brain because of the crash, leaving the family wondering how soon can she go back to work.

"Now it is more, 'What is my new norm? When is that going to come?'" Amanda said. "I say that because I cannot work yet."

While it seems as if Amanda could win a significant amount of money through a civil suit, the North Dakota legislature has capped damages when the lawsuit involves a public employee, like a county deputy.

The legislation says the cap for damages is $250,000 when a state or county worker is involved.

"I am so glad my wife is still here and she is still alive, but at the same point, where's our justice system in this?" Ken said. "Where is the legislature? Are they going to listen, or do something or sit back and say, 'sorry, too bad.' That is what seems to be going on."

Amanda has more than a $100,000 in student loans from her nurse practitioner training. That, on top of medical bills and being out of work, has the couple frustrated. The family has set up a GoFundMe to help with their expenses.

"The massive frustration in this entire situation is my wife did nothing wrong," Ken said.

Kevin Wallevand has been a Reporter at WDAY-TV since 1983. He is a native of Vining, Minnesota in Otter Tail County. His series and documentary work have brought him to Africa, Vietnam, Haiti, Kosovo, South America, Mongolia, Juarez,Mexico and the Middle East. He is an multiple Emmy and national Edward R. Murrow award recipient.

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