VERNON COUNTY - It happened again last Saturday—another crash at the intersection of Highway 14, Highway 27 and County T in Vernon County’s Franklin Township.
This time, four people were injured. Two of them were injured seriously enough to be transferred to Gundersen Health System in LaCrosse-one by helicopter.
The accident occurred at 1:15 p.m. on Saturday, April 21, according to the Vernon County Sheriff’s Department.
James H. Close, 60, from LaCrosse, was driving a vehicle southbound on Highway 14, when he collided with a northbound vehicle operated by John C. Burton, 65, Lancaster.
Close was attempting to turn left on to County T from 14 and apparently did not see the oncoming Burton vehicle, according to the sheriff’s department. A collision occurred.
The Close vehicle came to rest on 14, facing south in one of the two northbound lanes, just north of T. The Burton vehicle traveled off the east side of 14 and up an embankment, where it came to rest. The vehicle was upright, but on steep incline. The Viroqua Fire Department stabilized the vehicle.
John Burton was transported to Vernon Memorial Healthcare by the Kickapoo Rescue Squad and later released, the sheriff’s department reported. His passenger Marcia M. Burton, 63, Lancaster was transported by Tri-State Ambulance to the Viroqua Airport and flown to Gundersen Health System by a Gundersen Air helicopter. As of last Sunday morning, Marcia Burton was listed in stable condition.
James Close and his passenger Jerry Close, 66, Mindoro, were both transported by Readstown EMS to Vernon Memorial Healthcare. Jerry Close was released and James Close was transferred to Gundersen Health System in lacrosse.
The Vernon County Sheriff’s Department was assisted at the accident scene by the Viroqua Fire Department, the Viroqua Police Department, Tri-State Ambulance, Readstown EMS and the Kickapoo Rescue Squad.
Seat belts were in use and air bags deployed in both vehicles, the sheriff’s department reported.
Contacted later, Vernon County Sheriff John Spears confirmed the intersection has been the scene of numerous accidents, including some fatal accidents.
The Burton vehicle came to rest on an embankment east of Highway 14, and narrowly missed running over a cross placed there in honor of a previous fatal accident victim.
Sheriff Spears said the accident was a topic of discussion this past weekend and the possibility of a roundabout to decrease the potential for accidents was discussed. He cited the roundabout on Highway 27 and Highway 33 in Cashton as an example.
Spears said the problem with projects like a roundabout is funding. There is a long list of infrastructure projects that are needed and only limited funding at this point.
The accident remains under investigation by the Vernon County Sheriff’s Department.