Guilty plea for Jet ski operator

Dean Bartsch, 41, Minot, has entered a guilty plea and must pay fines and fees totaling $475 on a misdemeanor B charge of Prohibited Operation of Personal Water Craft. Bartsch entered the plea last week in South Central District Court in Washburn.

Bartsch was the operator of a 2003 Kawasaki Jet Ski involved in a June 9 accident at Strawberry Lake in McLean County which resulted in the death of 10-year-old Haley Sundsbak of Des Lacs and extensive injuries to 10-year-old Abby Mikkelson of Minot. Bartsch had been thrown off the Jet Ski approximately 150 yards from where it made contact with the two girls who were being pulled on a tube behind a boat.

The Jet Ski was equipped with a kill switch designed to shut off the motor of the Jet Ski if the operator is thrown from the machine. However, as Bartsch told investigators, he did not have the lanyard attached to his person but rather was holding it in his hand when he was ejected.

The Jet Ski was estimated to be traveling from 25 to 75 miles per hour at the time it struck the girls. Testing of the Jet Ski by certified technicians following the accident revealed it had a “high idle and sticky throttle.” The Jet Ski was owned by Jason Fuller of Strawberry Lake.