Charges uncertain in fatal tow-truck crash on I-94 near Tower City

The Yukon's front-seat passenger, a 43-year-old woman, died at the scene.

Hagerott go fund me photo.PNG
A photograph of the Hagerott family from an online fundraiser set up after Kelli Hagerott, 43, was killed in a two-vehicle crash on Interstate 94 near Tower City, North Dakota.
Family photo via GoFundMe

TOWER CITY, N.D. — A crash that killed one motorist and left three other family members badly injured is still under investigation by the North Dakota Highway Patrol, and it remains unclear if charges will be filed.

A 2017 GMC Yukon driven by 42-year-old Timothy Hagerott, of Bismarck, rear-ended a broken-down tow truck Saturday, Jan. 22, on Interstate 94. Both vehicles came to rest in the north ditch, the patrol said.

The Yukon's front-seat passenger, 43-year-old Kelli Hagerott, of Bismarck, died at the scene. Timothy Hagerott and two passengers, a 14-year-old girl and a 9-year-old girl, were taken to Sanford Medical Center in Fargo to be treated for serious injuries, the patrol said.

The crash happened at about 9 p.m. Saturday on a stretch of road with scattered ice 2 miles east of Tower City, according to the North Dakota Highway Patrol Capt. Bryan Niewind.

Mario Butler, 43, left the tow truck parked in the right lane of westbound I-94 because he had mechanical problems, Niewind said.


"There was scattered ice in the roadway in that area, and roads were not covered in snow at the time of the crash," he said.

The Yukon rear-ended a 1997 International flatbed tow truck, which had a mechanical issue and stopped in the right driving lane of westbound I-94.

Butler, of Minot, called another tow truck, but a passing motorist gave him a ride away from the scene before the other tow truck arrived, leaving the broken-down tow truck in the driving lane, the patrol said.

The crash remains under investigation, Niewind said, adding that it was too early to determine if charges will be filed. Speed and alcohol were not factors in the accident, he added.

As of Sunday evening, Timothy Hagerott was in stable condition and the two girls were in critical condition. All four motorists in the Yukon were wearing seat belts at the time of the crash, according to the patrol.

Mark Hagerott, chancellor of the North Dakota University System, is Timothy Hagerott's first cousin, said NDUS spokesperson Billie Jo Lorius.

"It is with great sadness that my family and I learned about the tragedy that resulted in the death of Kelli Hagerott and injuries to Tim and two of their daughters. The pain of these events is even greater when I recall the joy last spring my wife and I witnessed as the family celebrated their eldest daughter's high school graduation party and send-off to college," Mark Hagerott wrote in an email to The Forum.

"We offer our sincerest condolences and prayers for the family as they continue to heal from their injuries. Our hearts will continue to be with those who are recovering as well as sisters Ashlyn and Alyssa, who is a student at NDSU, during this long journey on the road of healing and grieving," he wrote.


Tower City is about 47 miles west of Fargo.

Family and friends have set up a GoFundMe page which by Monday afternoon had raised more than $41,000 to help the Hagerott family. The fundraising page can be found at

What To Read Next
The volume of wasted natural gas, chiefly from flaring, on federal and tribal lands in North Dakota was exceeded only by New Mexico. according to a study for the Environmental Defense Fund.
An annual event since 2017, the good-natured competition was started by Rep. Matthew Ruby, R-Minot, and Rep. Corey Mock, D-Grand Forks.
“As a doctor, it’s tough to hear that these legislators think they know better than I do how to take care of people,” Dr. Mayson Bedient said.
Participants are asked to preregister before Friday, Feb. 10.