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Multitasking blamed for Milwaukee deputy's fatality

A Milwaukee sheriff's deputy wasn't paying attention before a deadly accident last summer. A Wisconsin State Patrol report of the fatal truck crash says the deputy may not have noticed stopped traffic before striking the rear of a tow truck on Interstate 43.

The tow truck driver involved in the motor vehicle accident was interviewed as part of the troopers' investigation. He observed the approach of the deputy's service truck in the flatbed truck's rearview mirror. The deputy apparently did not see that traffic had stopped until the final seconds before the crash.

The deputy apparently hit the brakes and unsuccessfully tried to steer clear of the truck in front of him. Wisconsin State Patrol said the deputy's airbag monitor revealed a minimum speed of 48 mph at the time of impact.

The Milwaukee County deputy slammed into the rear right side of the tow truck so forcefully that the service vehicle separated. The sheriff's truck flipped and rolled until it was beneath the overpass at Winnebago Street.

The accident victim died not long after the crash.

A separate witness confirmed that interstate traffic had stopped suddenly for road work along the southbound highway. Several motorists were apparently involved in close-call accidents while braking quickly.

Investigators ruled out drugs and alcohol as contributing factors. Troopers discovered the deputy had not been wearing a seat belt, the only accident fault placed in the report.

The report's conclusion was that the deputy was inattentive, although officials aren't sure why. The accident report said the deputy's actions were likely caused by multitasking, which might have been called negligence for a regular driver.

The Milwaukee tow truck driver apparently was not hurt in the accident, but what if he had been? What if the driver who caused the accident had not been a deputy?

Medical bills and lost wages for a severe injury might have been recovered through a personal injury suit against a distracted driver.

Source:, "Inattentive driving cited as factor in crash that killed Sergio Aleman," Myra Sanchick and Henry Rosoff, Sept. 18, 2012

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