WILLARD, Wis. – Heavy rainfall washed away a 50-foot stretch of highway in central Wisconsin, and three people were killed when their vehicles plunged into the resulting ravine and the raging water below, authorities said Thursday.
The crashes occurred in the tiny town of Willard, about 50 miles southeast of Eau Claire. A motorist discovered the vehicles Thursday about 1:30 a.m., Clark County Chief Deputy Jim Backus said.
The vehicles fell 12 to 15 feet, ending up partially submerged in a river below that swelled as high as 10 feet in places, Backus said.
A pickup truck carrying Thomas J. Jurceka, 56, and Susan Jurceka, 57, both of Milwaukee, crashed first. A second vehicle driven by Mary A. Malinowski, 24, of Thorp, followed some time later and landed on top of the truck. All three were pronounced dead at the scene.
“I was the first one there. It was just a horrible feeling because it was helpless,” Backus said. “You had the water, the road was actually still collapsing on the vehicles and around the vehicles. Just a helpless feeling.”