Janesville49.7°

Changes sought to intersection of fatal crash

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Mike Heine
October 28, 2007
— Miriam Houck cringes when she hears tires squeal outside her front door at Krueger Road and Highway 120 north of Lake Geneva.

“I spend a lot of time going like this and waiting for a crash to happen,” she told the Walworth County Highway Safety Committee through a clenched jaw on Thursday. “I know it’s a serious problem.”


Houck said she felt the urge to speak after two people died and nine Lake Geneva Badger High School soccer players were injured Oct. 12, when a school bus slammed into the side of a sport utility vehicle at the intersection.


The Chicago residents in the SUV died following the crash. None of the students was seriously injured.


The SUV missed a stop sign and was hit by the southbound bus at 55 mph.


The computer inside the Chevy Blazer confirmed the driver didn’t hit the brakes until a split second before the impact, said Capt. Scott McClory of the Walworth County Sheriff’s Department.


Houck and Dave Hills, general manager of Hawk’s View Golf Course on Krueger Road, asked that something be done to improve safety at the intersection.


“I don’t want the guilt anymore, so I’m here,” Houck told the committee. “I’m not one to attend public forums. If another accident happened, I would feel very responsible for what happened.”


Installing a lighted stop sign, putting down rumble strips, removing trees and brush near the corner or lowering the speed limit on Highway 120 might help, they said.


The golf course would be willing to pay for lighting the intersection. Since the course opened in 2001, it has brought more than 100,000 people a year onto Krueger Road, Hills said.


Houck said she would cut trees in her yard if asked.


Houck often hears or sees people slamming on their brakes just before the busy highway. Sometimes, people speed through to Buckby Road, directly across the highway, she said.


“I work in my yard a lot,” she said. “I hear a lot of screeching tires. I hear a lot of truck drivers laying on their horns in both directions.”


The committee opted to explore installing flashing-red stop signs on both Krueger and Buckby roads.


Chris Quesnell, Wisconsin Department of Transportation traffic safety engineer, said a needs-assessment study would be needed first. The town of Lyons on its own could put up additional “Stop Ahead” signs to warn motorists.


“It’s an accident waiting to happen,” Hills said. “I’m amazed there hasn’t been more.”


The site has had about one injury crash per year since 1999, according to a letter from sheriff’s department Sgt. Mark Roum.


Since Jan. 1, 1999, there have been nine injury crashes at the intersection, one caused by failure to yield the right of way, according to the sheriff’s department. The last fatal crash before Oct. 12 was July 7, 1994.


SEATBELTS SOUGHT

Since nine high school soccer players were injured in an Oct. 12 bus crash north of Lake Geneva, former Lake Geneva Mayor Spyro Condos has been pushing for adding seatbelts to school buses in the city.


He wrote a letter to the school board asking to go above minimum bus safety standards and add belts.


“What if that bus was transporting little kids from a field trip to a zoo?” he asked. “Little kids flying around that bus would have been a different outcome. Older kids fit well in a seat and can grab onto things. Little kids can’t.”


The bus, after striking the SUV, rolled onto its side.


State law does not require seatbelts on full-size buses.



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