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Five injured in Hwy. 56 crash in Liberty township
Childs crying distracts mother, leads to a head-on collision
ilich accident
The damaged vehicle driven by Rudolf Ilich, 53, Viola, rests in the eastbound lane of Hwy. 56 following a collision with a vehicle driven by Jenny Jonquist, 28, Richland Center, Oct. 10 at 12:45 p.m. The collision occurred after Jonquist turned her head to check on her one-year-old son, who was crying. - photo by Vernon County Sheriffs Office photo

Five people were injured, two seriously, in a two-vehicle crash Oct. 10 caused by distracted driving.

According to a press release from the Vernon County Sheriff’s Office in Viroqua, at 12:45 p.m., Jenny Jonquist, 28, Richland Center, was driving west on Hwy. 56 preparing to turn left onto Co. SS. Jonquist told authorities that her one-year-old son, who was in the back seat, began crying. Jonquist turned her head momentarily to check on her son.

While distracted, she turned her vehicle into the path of an eastbound vehicle driven by Rudolf  Ilich, 53, Viola. He tried to avoid the crash by swerving to the right, but both vehicles collided head on in the east bound lane.

Both vehicles spun. Ilich’s came to rest in the eastbound lane, Jonquist’s in the eastbound ditch.

Jonquist and both her children, ages one and four, were trapped in their vehicle. Both children were in child safety seats belted in the back seat of the vehicle. They were freed by the Viola Fire Department.

Jonquist and her children, and Ilich and his wife, Tracey, 42, were all transported to Vernon Memorial Healthcare in Viroqua. Rudolf and Tracey Ilich were treated and released.

Jonquist’s one-year-old child was treated and released to family members.

Jonquist and her four-year-old child were later transferred to Gundersen Health System in La Crosse with serious injuries.
All in the crash were wearing seat belts.

Assisting at the scene were the Kickapoo Valley Rescue Squad, Readstown Ambulance, La Farge Ambulance and Tri-State Ambulance Services.

The accident remains under investigation.