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Sticking accelerator possible cause of fatal Wisconsin crash

An elderly man recently died in an Oconomowoc accident that may have been caused by a mechanical problem. Preliminary police reports did not detail the fatal car accident, although a Wisconsin sheriff's deputy said the van driver had a problem with the vehicle's accelerator.

The 76-year-old auto accident victim was riding in a Dodge County medical van used to transport elderly patients. According to the Jefferson County deputy, the van was on an exit ramp from Highway 16 when the vehicle accelerated.

The van sped up the off-ramp and shot through a stop sign. The vehicle lifted off the ground after striking a median. As the van landed, it reportedly hit a second vehicle, continued up a hill and flipped over.

The elderly passenger died about six hours after the crash. Another passenger and the van driver reported minor injuries. The person driving the second vehicle was unhurt.

Investigators will examine the van thoroughly to determine whether the driver's assertions match the vehicle's mechanics.

Negligence can be tied to a mass transit vehicle's mechanical failure. The agency responsible for keeping the driver and vehicle road-ready might be held accountable for harm caused by a careless employee or faulty servicing of a vehicle.

A vehicle manufacturer, parts maker or service technician may also be blamed for contributing to a fatal accident. The van driver, county or state Human Services and Health Department -- the operator of the program for the elderly - could be named as defendants in a wrongful death action over the accident in Oconomowoc.

A civil lawsuit would help establish whether evidence of negligence is clear and which party or parties are responsible. The outcome of a wrongful death action is often a financial award for damages, either through a pre-trial settlement or with the help of a jury.

Plaintiffs in wrongful death suits are spouses or other family members directly affected by the loss of a loved one.

Source:, "1 killed in crash," Steve Sharp, Oct. 26, 2012

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