Grand Forks man sentenced for leaving the scene of an accident that left one dead

Tyson Sabazz Sewell, 40, was sentenced to one year in prison and two years of supervised probation for striking and killing a man on Gateway Drive last April, then turning himself in 17 minutes later.

Gavel Court Crime Courts

A Grand Forks man was sentenced Monday, March 9, to leaving the scene of an April 2019 accident that left one man dead.

Tyson Sabazz Sewell, 40, was sentenced to 30 months in prison with all but 12 months suspended and two years of supervised probation. The last six months of his sentence will be served through electronic home monitoring. He also was ordered to pay $500 in restitution to the victim's family.

Sewell on Dec. 9 pleaded guilty to duty in accident involving death and driving under suspension. He faced a maximum of 10 years in prison and a $20,000 fine for the duty in accident charge. He will report for his sentence after completing an electronic home monitoring sentence for a DUI in Polk County, which came prior to the April incident.

According to court documents, Sewell had a blood-alcohol content of 0.07 when he struck David Hagen on Gateway Drive on April 8, 2019. The legal limit is 0.08. Grand Forks County State's Attorney Carmell Mattison also said that driving conditions that night were poor, and rain created reduced visibility on the roads.

Sewell said that when he felt himself hit something, he initially thought someone had thrown something off of the overpass. Seventeen minutes later, he called law enforcement to turn himself in, and was located about a half-mile from the scene of the accident.


"He was going back to do the right thing," Sewell's attorney, Larry Richards, said. "It just took him some time, several minutes."

Richards said it is unlikely the lapsed time before Sewell turned himself in made a difference in Hagen's death, and that law enforcement was already on the scene when he called police.

Sewell told the court Monday that every night, he and his daughter pray for Hagen's family.

"I would like closure for their sake," he said.

Richard Rockefeller, Hagen's nephew who addressed the court Monday, described his family's grief to the court in a victim impact statement at the hearing.

"His life was of great value to him, and to his family," Rockefeller said. "Grief is very difficult."

He said that while Hagen's family does not believe Sewell got behind the wheel with the intent of harming anybody, he still made the decision to drive after drinking, even though he was below the legal limit.

"You will not experience transformation without some kind of consequences," he said. "My family hopes you find that."

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