Elderly North Dakota woman gets probation in pedestrian’s death

June 23, 2021

BISMARCK, N.D. (AP) — An 86-year-old North Dakota woman who struck and killed a pedestrian and then left the scene of the crash has been sentenced to two years of probation.

Bertha Harper, of Bismarck, earlier pleaded guilty to negligent homicide and failure to report an accident in the June 2020 death of Amber Rebel. The 33-year-old woman was struck outside a Bismarck apartment building and died at a Fargo hospital several days later.

Douglas Rebel, the victim’s father, said in court Monday that Harper has shown no remorse and needs to be held accountable for her actions.

“You’ve got to face and accept your responsibilities, and I don’t think you’ve done that,” he said.

Assistant Burleigh County State’s Attorney Anna Argenti recommended that Harper be sentenced to five years in prison with all but a year and one day suspended, plus five years of supervised probation. Argenti said Harper had many opportunities to take responsibility but didn’t do it until long after the crash.

Harper told the victim’s family that she was sorry about what had happened and for the suffering it caused.

“I also have been grieving along with you,” Harper said. “I feel so horrible for you that you had to endure losing a child. I can’t even imagine what that must be like.”

South Central District Judge Daniel Borgen also ordered Harper to pay restitution in an amount that will be determined later.

Defense attorney Tom Dickson Dickson said after the hearing that accidents happen in life and they happen to everybody.

“Not every accident is a crime,” he said. “One accident should not erase 86 years of an exemplary life. In this case, it did not.”