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Two hurt in crash; medics at SWTC meeting help
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Two vehicles collided head-on on U.S. 18 near Preston Thursday night. Participants at a Southwest Tech meeting assisted authorities at the scene. - photo by Grant County Sheriffs Office

Two people were injured in a head-on crash on U.S. 18 in the Town of Wingville Thursday night.

Fennimore firefighters and EMTs were given unexpected assistance at the crash scene from participants at a meeting at Southwest Wisconsin Technical College. Two of them ended up taking one of the victims to UW Hospital in Madison.

The crash occurred around 7:40 p.m. when vehicles driven by Kim J. Cleary, 52, Highland, and Alan I. Tinderholt, 61, Waukon, Iowa, collided head-on at 18 and Preston Road.

West of the crash scene, Grant County fire chiefs and EMS directors were attending a meeting at SWTC that included Grant County Emergency Management Director Steve Braun. Fennimore’s participants left the meeting when the first Grant County Sheriff’s Department call was made.

“They had requested an ambulance with [Advanced Life Support] to start an IV on a person,” said Braun. Fennimore EMS is an EMT-Basic service, so Montfort EMS was called to the scene.

One hour later, a second ALS ambulance was requested. Instead of calling another EMT-Advanced service, Braun went to two paramedics from Tri-State Ambulance in Prairie du Chien, who had brought their ambulance to the meeting.

“I’m an IV tech in Lancaster, but I didn’t have any supplies, so it just made sense,” said Braun. “I asked them if they’d be interesting in taking this to us because you’re so much closer. It was just a chance thing.”

Braun also went to the crash scene to assist.

Because of the severity of the crash, it took more than an hour to extricate one of the victims, necessitating the second ambulance.

UW Hospital’s Med Flight helicopter was called, but was unable to fly because of the weather. Braun said a “very heavy downpour” hampered rescue efforts. “There wouldn’t have been a helicopter available,” he said.

The Tri-State Ambulance paramedics ended up following Montfort EMS in taking a driver to Madison. Both drivers were admitted to UW Hospital’s intensive care unit, according to the Grant County Sheriff’s Office.

According to the Sheriff’s Office, Tinderholt fell asleep before the crash. Cleary admitted to drinking before the crash, but the sheriff’s department said only that alcohol “may be a contributing factor in the crash as well.” As of Tuesday morning, no charges had been filed in the crash.

U.S. 18 was closed in both directions for nearly 2½ hours.

The Wisconsin State Patrol and UW–Madison Police assisted the Sheriff’s Office. The Sheriff’s Office and the State Patrol are investigating the crash.