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Police pursuit of stolen car leads to serious car accident

As Americans, we have become so accustomed to traveling by automobile that it is easy to forget the dangers inherent in road travel. Even when a driver operates his or her car in a safe and responsible manner, our own individual actions comprise only a small part of the overall risk of a car accident. A Wisconsin woman was recently reminded of just how little control we have over our safety while on the road.

The 27-year-old Milwaukee woman was driving on US 41 when her car was struck by a sheriff's deputy who was in pursuit of a stolen vehicle. She was transported to an area hospital and listed in critical condition. A passenger in her car, a 28-year-old man, as well as the 53-year-old sheriff's deputy who was driving the police car that struck the woman, also sustained minor injuries. Both the sheriff's office and the Wisconsin State Patrol are currently investigating the accident.

The incident happened when the local sheriff's department received a report of a hit-and-run accident in Spruce involving a stolen Dodge Viper. Police made multiple attempts to stop the car driver, including setting up two sets of stop-sticks to force the driver to stop. The 53-year-old sheriff's deputy was in pursuit of the car when he swerved to avoid the stop-sticks. This action caused him to cross into opposing traffic and hit the woman's car.

However, the suspect crashed through both sets and continued driving. Several law enforcement branches collaborated in the attempt to stop the auto-theft suspect, who eventually abandoned the severely damaged Viper and fled on foot. Although police quickly established a perimeter and searched the area with the assistance of a police K-9 unit, they were unable to apprehend the suspect, who remains at large.

This driver set out on what she likely believed would be a normal Saturday afternoon. Due to actions that were not only out of her control but completely unpredictable, she is now in critical condition at a local hospital. The investigation into the causes of the car accident is still ongoing, and as of July 7, no charges had been filed in the case. The driver will no doubt accumulate significant medical bills, and may experience ongoing physical ailments as a result of the crash. She has the right to ask a court to determine whether responsibility for the incident falls upon the man who stole the vehicle and caused the pursuit, or the police officer who struck her car, or both.

Source: Green Bay Press Gazette, "Driver sought after high speed chase causes US 41 accidents," Richard Ryman, July 7, 2012

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Godfrey, Leibsle, Blackbourn & Howarth, S.C.

Godfrey, Leibsle,
Blackbourn & Howarth, S.C.

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