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Automobile Collisions / Workers' Compensation

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Head-on crash at "dangerous" Wisconsin intersection kills two

Officials knew that a Pierce County intersection was dangerous, before a recent head-on collision that severely injured one Wisconsin driver and killed two other people. Transportation officials and police want to discuss possible causes for the fatal car accident to find out whether intersection safety can be improved.

Reports say the auto accident happened around 10 p.m. as one driver along northbound State Highway 63 attempted to veer onto County Road Y, a maneuver that requires moving across southbound Highway 63. The car slammed into a southbound vehicle during the crossover.

The cars were consumed in flames when rescue units arrived. A 22-year-old Red Wing man, the driver of the first car, and a 30-year-old female passenger in the second vehicle were pronounced dead at the scene of the crash. The driver of the second car, a 25-year-old Red Wing resident, was critically injured.

A 55-mph speed limit allows northbound State Highway 63 traffic to move through the County Y intersection without restrictions. Stop signs are posted only for southbound traffic.

The Pierce County Sheriff said Wiff Corner, as it is known, is a "dangerous" intersection where several other accidents have occurred. Roadside buildings limit how far drivers can see. The highway also curves abruptly to the east shortly after it meets County Y Road.

Wisconsin State Patrol, the state transportation department and Pierce County sheriff's deputies will meet this month to determine whether the intersection's design contributed to the fatal crash. Investigators are examining evidence that may also point to driver error.

It is the policy of Wisconsin officials to assess the safety traffic safety designs following fatal accidents. Improvements are often made after the public or lawmakers demand a change. Unfortunately, sometimes budgetary restraints prevent traffic safety upgrades even after a road becomes dangerous.

In some situations, victims may be able to seek damages from local or state government agencies for failure to create and maintain safe roadways.

In the meantime, investigators will review the evidence in order to determine the cause of the deadly collision. Since it is early in the investigation, it is unknown if the driver of the vehicle, the design of the roadway or a deadly combination of the two led to the crash. Hopefully the authorities will be able to find the answers and rectify the situation to prevent further disasters.

Source: republican-eagle.com, "Crash kills two at 'bad corner'," Sarah Gorvin, Aug. 29, 2012

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