WKEB Local News

Two Vehicle Head-on Crash Injures One

Two Vehicle Head-on Crash Injures One  4/19/2019

 

  The Taylor County Sheriff’s Department has released details into a 2 vehicle head-on traffic crash which occurred Wednesday April 17th on Highway 13 south of Medford.  At 7:15 AM on April 17th a semi truck owned RZ Builders was being driven by Dustin Zvolena of Greenwood northbound on Highway 13.  Zvolena told officers that when he crested the hill he saw a southbound sport utility vehicle being driven by Faustin Mbanza Bahire of Stetsonville which was completely in his lane of traffic.  The semi driver steered to the right to avoid a collision but was struck nearly head on about 200 feet from the Gravel Road intersection by the Bahire SUV.  Following the collision Faustin Bahire needed to be extricated from the vehicle by firefighters and was taken by ambulance.  The semi truck driver Dustin Zvolena was not taken by ambulance.

Woman Sentenced to Two Years Jail for Fatal Crash That Killed Four

Woman sentenced to two years jail for fatal crash that killed four

 

CHIPPEWA FALLS — An Eau Claire woman who missed a stop sign and crashed her car in May 2017, killing three passengers in her vehicle and a woman in another vehicle, was sentenced Friday to serve two years in the county jail.

  Cara Stevens, 25, 1802 Ball St., Eau Claire, pleaded no contest in Chippewa County Court in January to homicide by negligent operation of a motor vehicle and reckless driving-causing great bodily harm.

  The crash occurred in the northeast corner of Chippewa County, killing Raven Ellin, 21, Jonathan Jorgensen, 35, and Mikaila Toske, 23, in Stevens’ car, along with Kristine Kummer, 46, who was in another vehicle.

  Judge Steve Cray said because people use automobiles every day, they can forget they are dangerous weapon.

  "They must use it with a great deal of caution," Cray said.

  Ultimately, Cray said he couldn't reconcile the fact that Stevens missed several traffic signs before driving through the stop sign. However, he couldn't find a reason to give Stevens a prison sentence.

  Stevens will have Huber work release privileges, and she is not eligible for electronic monitoring. Her driver's license will be revoked for one year. She must report to jail by Sunday.

  Stevens apologized to the victims' families prior to the sentencing.

  "I don't know how I'll ever find enough words to say how sorry I am," she said.

  Several of the victims' family members spoke during the hearing, describing the loss caused by the crash that day.

  Shannon Young, Toske's mother, described the crash as an accident, and said Stevens doesn't deserve to be incarcerated.

  "I know how difficult and hard this is for all of you," Young said as she turned to Kummer's family. "There is nobody that is standing up with a voice of reason in all of this. I lost my only daughter that day. I understand how trying and difficult this is. But this was a tragic accident. A stop sign was innocently missed. But two drivers were violating traffic laws that day. But it was just an accident."

  Young said it is insulting the case has focused on the death and loss for the Kummer family, and the other three families who lost loved ones have been ignored.

  "There was no exhibition driving. There was no ill-intent," Young said. "No one was on their cell phone. To signal Cara out, is just one more injustice."

  Young said she is grateful that her daughter was with her boyfriend and best friend at the time of the crash.

  Kriste Niznik, one of Kummer's friends, said she was at the scene moments after the crash occurred.

  "I want you to know what I had to go through that day, watching my best friend pass away in front of me," Niznik told Cray. 

  The Kummers drive race cars, and were on their way to Rice Lake for an event. She described coming across the crash, and trying unsuccessfully to help Kummer.

  "I believe Cara should get five years in prison for what she has done to Kris and Kris' family," Niznik said. She described it as "one thoughtless act" that led to the death of four people. "We lost a great part of our family that day."

  Laykn Kummer, Kristine Kummer's daughter, said the death and loss of her mother is still as fresh and hurtful today as the day of the crash nearly two years ago.

"I lost everything that day, all because she blew a stop sign," Laykn Kummer said.

  Maureen McIlligott, Ellin's grandmother, said that Stevens missed four traffic signs, not just one stop sign. McIlligott said the crash tore her family apart.

  "You've got to keep your eyes on the road," she said. "It doesn't matter if you're a brand-new driver or 60 years old."

  Gabrielle Hodges, Ellin's sister, said that Stevens showed remorse at her sister's family. Stevens attended Ellin's funeral.

  "She said she never meant for anything to happen," Hodges said. "No amount of punishment is going to bring my sister back."

  District attorney Wade Newell recommended that Stevens be placed in prison for two years along with three years of extended supervision, plus one year in jail.

  "No one is saying this is an intentional homicide; no one is saying this is a reckless homicide," Newell told Cray. "She is here for a homicide by criminal negligence."

  Newell said a traffic reconstruction report indicates that Stevens might have had her eyes off the road for eight seconds. He reiterated there were numerous traffic signs that Stevens missed.

  "It's the totality of the circumstances," Newell said. "You have to decide what is reasonable. She closed her attention to what was going on around her."

  He added that his recommendation factors in the totality of the harm caused.

  Stevens’ attorney, Rich White, said the case is "tragic beyond comprehension," but reiterated that this was an accident. He admits he has ran a stop sign before, and it was just sheer luck that he didn't cause a crash. He reminded Cray that there was no drug or alcohol use, no texting, and no exhibition driving. Stevens also has no prior criminal record.

  "Cara is overwhelmed by this. The tragedy caused to everyone has not been lost on her," White said. "In her mind, she knows she bares responsibility."

  Cray said a reasonable period of probation and jail time is a better outcome than a prison sentence.

  About 60 people packed Cray’s courtroom, including several from Kummer’s family, who all wore identical black race shirts with her name on the front, and reading “In loving memory of mom” on the back.

  According to the criminal complaint:

  Stevens was northbound on Highway G in the town of Ruby when the crash occurred at 5:02 p.m. May 27, 2017.

  Stevens’ Chrysler Pacifica crashed with a westbound Chevrolet Silverado at the intersection of Highway G and Highway 64, halfway between Cornell and Gilman. The Wisconsin State Patrol responded to the crash and handled the investigation.

  “Ms. Stevens failed to stop for the stop sign,” the report states. The vehicles collided, entered the ditch, and began to roll.

  The driver of the Silverado was David Kummer. Along with the death of Kristine Kummer, other passengers in the vehicle suffered serious injuries. Nicole Ronni suffered a compression fracture, a clavicle fracture, cracked ribs and a punctured lung. Cody Kummer suffered a shoulder injury that required surgery. Two others had minor injuries.

  Stevens was taken to HSHS Sacred Heart Hospital in Eau Claire. An officer interviewed her there, and Stevens said she and her friends were headed to a rural bar, but she hadn’t been there before. Stevens said she had passed an Amish buggy, and looked at it in her rear-view mirror.        When she “looked up,” the Silverado was in front of her, and the vehicles collided.

  Blood samples were taken from both Stevens and David Kummer. Kummer had no alcohol or restricted controlled substances in his system; Stevens had morphine and Midazolam in her system, but those were drugs administered to her at the hospital.

  “Driver impairment does not appear to be a factor in this crash,” the report states.

  After examining the scene, the officer determined that Stevens didn’t attempt to stop before the crash, noting the tire mark “does not appear until after entering the intersection.”

  “While the exact reasons for Ms. Stevens’ inattention are not known, it is likely her attention was not focused to the approaching intersection and stop sign,” the criminal complaint concludes.

  The criminal complaint doesn't indicate any cell phone use by either driver while driving.

 

Medford man sentenced in golf course embezzlement case

  MEDFORD (WAOW) — The former manager of a Medford golf course has pleaded guilty to charges that he stole from the establishment over a period of several months in 2014 as part of a plea agreement, according to Taylor County court records.

  Chad Lingen was charged with taking more than $25,000 from the Black River Country Club while he was employed there between April and November of 2014.

  In court Wednesday, he was sentenced to serve 30 days in jail and pay back $500 in restitution per month. The rest of his punishment was deferred if he successfully completes his three-year probation. He must also write an apology letter to the country club.

  According to the complaint against him, Lingen erased more than $18,600 in sales from a computer program used to track the transactions. He is also accused of skimming cash from bank deposit bags that were kept in the clubhouse freezer overnight for deposit the next day.

  Officials with the golf course terminated Lingen after he failed to provide them with timely financial reports. A few months after he met with two board members who asked him how he planned to pay back the money. Lingen reportedly asked if he could work off the debt.

Medford company lowest bidder at $16.9M for work on new road serving Foxconn site

Medford company lowest bidder at $16.9M for work on new road serving Foxconn site

By Nick Williams  – Reporter, Milwaukee Business Journal

Mar 25, 2019,

  A Medford-based pavement and construction company was the lowest bidder for a contract for work on a new road serving Foxconn Technology Group's manufacturing site in Mount Pleasant.

   James Peterson Sons Inc. bid at $16.9 million for nearly two miles worth of grading, landscaping, concrete paving, traffic signals, traffic signage and removal work for Wisconn Valley Way, a multi-lane access roadway that will extend between highways KR and 11 and connect to Braun Road, the main road bordering the plant.

  Michels Corp. of Brownville bid at $17.2 million for that contract, followed by Menomonee Falls-based Super Western, Inc. at $18.4 million, according to bid results posted by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

  Wisconn Valley Way is being built to accommodate development traffic and control access to manage safety and mobility at the Foxconn site. Foxconn said it will break ground this summer on its LCD screen fabrication plant in Mount Pleasant. The plant would start operations in the fourth quarter of 2020 and house 1,500 jobs.

  The contract for this Wisconn Valley Way project is projected to be completed in May of 2020.

  Last summer, James Peterson Sons submitted the lowest bid of $16.3 million to reconstruct Braun Road into a six-lane, divided highway. In November, Michels Corp. was the lowest of three bidders at $14.9 million for a contract to expand Highway KR and construct the Wisconn Valley Way and Highway KR intersection.

 

Body of Abbotsford Marine killed during WWII identified

 

WSAW.com-Marine Corps Capt. Lester A. Schade, 27, of Abbotsford, Wisconsin, killed during World War II, was accounted for on July 26, 2018, according to Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.

  In April 1942, Schade was captured by enemy forces and held as a prisoner of war in the Philippine Islands. On Dec. 14, 1944, more than 1,600 Allied prisoners were loaded aboard a Japanese transport en route to Japan. The ship was attacked by American carrier planes, killing a number of American prisoners.

  Survivors were transported aboard two other ships to Formosa, present day Taiwan, where they were loaded onto another ship, Enoura Maru, which was also attacked by American carrier planes. According to records, Schade was aboard the Enoura Maru when it was attacked Jan. 9, 1945, and was listed as missing, presumed dead as a result of the incident.

While survivors of the Enoura Maru bombing reported that the bodies of the men killed on the ship were cremated by the Japanese and buried at Takao Harbor, historical evidence indicates that not all the remains were cremated. One survivor stated that the Japanese suspended the cremation prior to completion.

T  he American Graves Registration Service recovered remains from graves and a cemetery around Takao in May and June 1946. The remains, which could not be identified were interred in the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific, known as the Punchbowl, in Honolulu, including one set, designated Formosa X-546A.

  On Oct. 31, 2017, following thorough historical research and analysis by DPAA historians, X-546A was disinterred from the Punchbowl for analysis.

  To identify Schade's remains, scientists from DPAA used dental and anthropological analysis, as well as historical and material evidence.

DPAA is grateful to the Department of Veterans Affairs for their partnership in this mission.

  Of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II, more than 400,000 died during the war. Currently there are 72,917 service members still unaccounted for from World War II (approximately 26,000 are assessed as possibly-recoverable).

  Schade's name is recorded on the Walls of the Missing at the Manila American Cemetery, an American Battle Monuments Commission site in the Philippines, along with the other MIAs from WWII. A rosette will be placed next to his name to indicate he has been accounted for. 

 

 

 

Unity man convicted in double homicide case sentenced to life without parole

WAUSAU, Wis. (WSAW) -- Court records show the 27-year-old Unity man convicted of killing two people last January is sentenced to life without the possibility of parole Friday afternoon in Marathon County Circuit Court.

Tyler Zimmerman agreed to the terms of a plea deal in December. In exchange for the guilty plea, four other counts were dismissed.

The Colby-Abbotsford Police Chief said Cierra Hardrath, 21 and Duane [Hostetler] Lopez Jr., 25, were killed and one person, Megan Dupee, 18 was injured following the shooting Jan. 20, 2018. It happened on the 400 block of East Maple Street in Abbotsford.

Police say they got a call from Dupee about the shooting minutes after 3 a.m. When officers responded, they found the two people dead.

Chief Jason Bauer said the sole suspect, Zimmerman, was found near the crime scene and was taken into custody. Bauer said Zimmerman was Hardrath's live-in boyfriend.

Zimmerman told police he believed Hardrath was cheating on him. According to court documents, Zimmerman said Hardrath told him she was going to watch a movie at a friend's house and she left their home in Owen around 8 p.m.

Zimmerman told police he did not believe her, so he checked her Facebook Messenger and found she was having conversations with other men. He explained he tracked Hardrath's phone using the "Find My Phone" app on her tablet, then drove to the home on the 400 block of East Maple Street in Abbotsford.

According to police, the home belongs to Hardrath's ex-boyfriend, Parker Knautz. Knautz told police Hardrath had come to visit him and his two children. He said she eventually went to sleep in his bed, but he went to his children's room, as they were calling for him, and ultimately fell asleep there.

Once Zimmerman got to the home, Lopez Jr., [Hostetler] a tenant at the home, answered the door. Zimmerman asked for Hardrath, but Lopez Jr. said he did not know her. Eventually he let him in and led him to the bedroom where she was sleeping.

Zimmerman said he talked with Hardrath and referenced cheating, then shot her. Panicked, he said he turned around and shot the person standing in the doorway, Lopez Jr. On his way out, he shot Lopez Jr.'s fiance, Megan Dupee, 18.

Investigators said Zimmerman said he drove to his work to try to tell his boss everything. He left a voicemail on his phone saying he was sorry and he messed up. Zimmerman then wrote a Facebook post saying, "Farewell everyone, I'm sorry for all that I have hurt from this..." During this time, Dupee called 911 and police arrested Zimmerman shortly after near the home.

Police spoke with Zimmerman's boss who told them Zimmerman purchased a handgun a few months ago when Zimmerman and Hardrath seemed to be having issues. He prefaced he did not believe the purchase was unusual at the time.

Investigators asked Zimmerman if he knew he was going to shoot Hardrath when he got to the home. Zimmerman respond, "kind of, in a way."

Zimmerman faces a mandatory life sentence. Only his parole eligibility will be discussed at his sentencing hearing.

Update on missing man that was last seen on February 24th in the Village of Gilman.

          Update on missing man that was last seen on February 24th in the Village of Gilman.

 

 On February 24,2019 at 1:36 p.m. the Taylor County Sheriff’s Office received a report that 21 year old John R. Shest had walked away from the Phoenix House located in the Village of Gilman, in western Taylor County.  Shest was last seen leaving the Corner Store in Gilman on foot in a westerly direction after purchasing alcohol. Taylor County Sheriff’s Deputies and the Gilman Police Chief searched for Shest but were unable to locate him. The Sheriff’s Office continued efforts to locate Shest but no new information became available.

 

  On March 14th Taylor County Sheriff’s Deputies  in a continued effort to locate Shest again searched the area and with the snow cover diminishing located Shest deceased at 3:14 p.m.

 

  Shest was found partially buried in snow south of the village of Gilman. Based on his location it is believed Shest had walked down the rail road tracks leading out of the village in an attempt to be undetected. The incident remains under investigation but no foul play is suspected.

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