The death or critical injury of a victim erases important details of the investigation of a motor vehicle accident. Police are forced to rely on physical evidence and witness testimonies for conclusions when answers the victims could have provided are lost.
A fatal car accident near Prescott recently took the lives of three people, including an elderly Stillwater couple whose car drifted into the path of another vehicle. State troopers reported two people in the second car were severely injured and airlifted to Regions Hospital in St. Paul.
The head-on collision occurred recently, south of Prescott on Highway 35. The Stillwater couple, a 72-year-old driver and his 71-year-old wife, was in a Chevrolet Malibu just north of County Road QQ in Pierce County.
Investigators are uncertain why the northbound car wandered into the southbound lane and crashed straight into a Chevrolet Lumina. An absence of skid marks indicates the Malibu driver did not sense danger or try to stop.
The force of impact immediately killed the elderly couple. The Lumina driver, a 51-year-old Prescott man, died from accident injuries within a few days. A trooper said the driver's 53-year-old female passenger survived, but remained hospitalized in critical condition.
Investigators said it appeared the elderly Stillwater driver did not have a medical episode at the time of the fatal accident. The results of a medical examiner's autopsy report apparently were inconclusive.
No evidence of distracted driving was found. Police are waiting for diagnostic results before they rule out vehicle mechanical failure.
A new Wisconsin state law governing police procedures following fatal auto accidents also required investigators to take the Prescott driver's blood sample for toxicology testing. Troopers do not expect the tests to show that the driver was impaired.
Investigators are eliminating the possibilities, but admit they may never figure out how the deadly crash really happened. The people who knew have died, leaving grieving families to wonder how and why their lives have permanently changed.