Press Releases

May 8th Drowning in Stock Pond


On 05/07/2017 at approximately 5:16 PM the McKenzie County Sheriff’s Office, McKenzie County Rural Fire Department, McKenzie County Ambulance Service, and Valley Med Flight responded to a report of an 18 year old male who was drowning at a stock pond located near 126th Ave NW and 37th ST NW. The male was identified by family members who were present as Ben Johnston. Upon arrival of law enforcement Ben Johnston had been submerged for roughly fifteen minutes already.  A short time later McKenzie County Rural Fire Department Fire Fighters arrived and began searching the pond.  

The father of Ben Johnston also began having chest pains and was taken to the McKenzie County Health Care Hospital in Watford City, ND, where he was treated and released.  At approximately 6:35PM Ben Johnston was located on the bottom of the stock dam and was recovered by fire fighters.  Ben Johnston was unresponsive as he was placed in an ambulance where paramedics from the McKenzie County Ambulance Service and flight medics from Valley Med Flight attempted life saving measures while in route to the hospital.  At approximately 7:30 PM Ben Johnston was pronounced deceased and family notifications were made.  

Ben Johnston was removed from the hospital by the McKenzie County Coroner and there will be an autopsy on 05/09/2017 at the Medical Examiner’s Office in Bismarck, ND.  This incident is believed to be an accidental drowning at this point, however this is still an open case pending findings from the medical examiner. The McKenzie County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank all first responders involved in this incident for their valiant efforts and we also would like to extend our heartfelt condolences to the family of Ben Johnston following this tragedy.
Investigating Department:
McKenzie County Sheriff’s Office







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All gravel and county roads are slick. Please drive with caution.

***Motor Vehicle Accident Update #2*** Hwy 23 is open to all lanes of traffic. We appreciate your patience. We would like to thank Keene Fire and First Responders, McKenzie County Ambulance, North Dakota Highway Patrol, and the two companies for all their assistance tonight!

***Motor Vehicle Accident Update*** 1 vehicle will be cleared from the roadway shortly to open up 1 lane of travel. The second wrecker is coming to the scene to move the second vehicle. We appreciate your patience.

***Motor Vehicle Accident*** Highway 23 is going to be shut down to both lanes of traffic at the intersection of Hwy 23/32nd St Nw. Please find an alternate route at this time for your travels.

*** Travel advisory *** The No Travel Advisory on McKenzie County Roads has been lifted. Citizens should still drive with caution. While wind speeds are less than they were yesterday there are still snow drifts...

***HWY 23 TRAFFIC UPDATE*** Hwy 23 is back open to both lanes of traffic. We appreciate everyone’s patience and allowing the first responders to perform their duties!

***NO TRAVEL ADVISED*** Per the McKenzie County Sheriff’s Office there is no travel advised on all county roads within McKenzie County. Visibility is less than 1/4 mile and with the blowing snow it makes it hard to see the lanes. We will advise when conditions get better.

Highway 23 is shut down to both directions of traffic due to an accident at mile marker 14.5. Unknown when the road will be open again. Roads are deteriorating and visibility is poor. If you must drive please do so with caution.

* PRESS STATEMENT FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE * January 14, 2019 Sheriff Announces Shannon Wellen as Chief Deputy McKenzie County Sheriff Matthew Johansen announced today the hire of Shannon Wellen as...




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