Distracted driving may be a factor in Vernon County’s fourth traffic fatality of the year, according to the Sheriff’s Office in Viroqua.
Sheriff John Spears said an eyewitness statement indicates that 26-year-old Skyler Mickelson of Cashton may have either been talking on a cell phone or texting when the mid-size SUV he was driving crossed the center line of Hwy. 27 between Westby and Cashton and collided head-on with a straight truck at 8:35 a.m. Oct. 16.
Mickelson, who was not wearing a seat belt, was ejected from his vehicle. He was pronounced dead at the scene by the Vernon County Coroner’s Office.
The impact was such that even if Mickelson had been wearing a seatbelt, he still would have been killed in the crash, Spears said.
“Unless you saw the vehicle, it is hard to even explain it,” he told the Vernon County Broadcaster of Viroqua. “The whole driver’s compartment of the vehicle was destroyed.”
Spears said the accident is under investigation, and Mickelson’s family has been notified.
The truck driver, 48-year-old Daryl Von Glahn of Sparta, suffered non-life-threatening injuries and was transported by Tri-State Ambulance to Vernon Memorial Healthcare in Viroqua. He was wearing a seatbelt.
Hwy. 27 was closed and traffic re-routed by the Wisconsin State Patrol for three-and-a-half hours after the crash.
The crash was Vernon County’s second distracted driving-related crash in one week. On Oct. 10, a vehicle driven by Jenny Jonquist, 28, of Richland Center collided with a vehicle driven by Rudolf Ilich, 53, of Viola on Hwy. 56 after Jonquist was distracted by her one-year-old-son’s crying.