PWC Undergoing Mechanical Analysis After Involvement in Fatal Accident


A tragic story from WDAY6 out of North Dakota reminds us to ride safely and to always check our PWC and other equipment before entering the water.

Currently, a 2003 Kawasaki Jet Ski, operated by 31-year-old Dean Bartsch is undergoing mechanical analysis by Kawasaki technicians in Velva, N.D. The craft was involved in a fatal crash and the McLean County Sheriff’s Department continues to investigate the cause of the crash as well.

The collision occurred last weekend on a North Dakota lake. Two young girls were airlifted from the scene and transported to Gillette Children’s Specialty Healthcare Hospital in Saint Paul, MN. Ten-year-old Haley Sunsbak was pronounced dead the day after the incident. Another young girl is suffering severe injuries, including a skull fracture. She is said to be improving,

The girls were tubing behind a boat when they were hit by the 2003 Kawasaki Jet Ski operated by Bartsch. Bartsch was thrown from the ski and the ski didn’t stop until coming in contact with the girls, making it appear as though the machine’s kill switch wasn’t properly utilized or rendered inoperable. The kill switch issue is being highly scrutinized by investigators. Operators of PWC are required to have a tether secured to themselves and a working kill switch.

A quote from Lt. Rick Richard, McLean County Sheriff’s Department and former collision re-constructionist for the North Dakota Highway Patrol states,”We are doing a mechanical and technical analysis of the Jet Ski. It is being examined by Kawasaki technicians. We are doing on-scene analysis as well. The detective is very busy but it is very time consuming.”

We at The Watercraft Journal offer our deepest sympathies to the families of the little girls.

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Ocean Priselac

An avid mountain and bodyboarder who lives by "if you don't go, you'll never know," with an affinity for wildlife and animal rescue; surf forecasting is a huge part of Ocean's life and was a winner in Red Bull's Project Swell several years ago. The 2014 LB2CAT was her first jet ski competition and can't wait to do it again!

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