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Milton girl injured by golf club

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
October 29, 2007
— A 6-year-old Milton girl remains hospitalized in stable condition at UW Children’s Hospital, Madison, after suffering severe head and face injuries from a golf club last week.

Jessica Burton, a first-grader at Milton East Elementary School, was playing outside at the apartment complex she lives in with her mother, Kelly Burton, at 167 N. Janesville St. around 4:30 p.m. Wednesday with several others, ages 5 to 12, when she was injured.


Her mother and a mother’s friend drove Jessica to Mercy Hospital in Janesville before she was flown to the UW-Children’s Hospital in Madison.


Several hours later, the Milton Police Department was contacted by Jessica’s grandfather, Marv Wopat of Milton. That’s when the investigation began, said Sgt. John Conger.


Initially, it was believed the girl had been hit by a stray golf ball from the nearby Caddyshack driving range, just north of incident location. But nobody was on the tees hitting golf balls at the time, police found.


The investigation so far indicates the girl was playing with a group of other kids in the yard at this address when she was accidentally hit by another child swinging a golf club. And the investigation continues, even though Milton police believe the injuries were “most likely accidental and not intentional.”


The girl suffered skull fracture and a fracture to the orbit of her right eye.


“While we are convinced it’s accidental, it is still important we determine who was swinging the club. It’s the principal of you shouldn’t all be covering up for each other even though it was an accident and the kids were scared. That’s why we’re going to continue (to investigate),” Conger said today.


“We’ve got all these kids telling different stories of who did it,” Conger added.


Milton police took several golf clubs into evidence from the scene. Two were found hidden near where the accident happened and another club found at a residence of one of the children Jessica had been playing with, Conger said.


No arrests will be made, Conger said.


“It’s just a matter of somebody needing to take responsibility, and we need to figure out how and why this happened,” he said.


Jessica already has had one surgery and will have another operation Tuesday to correct injuries underneath the eye and her sinuses, said her grandmother, Lynn Wopat.


“The club hit her square in the right eye. It’s closed. They don’t think she’s got permanent damage to it, but she may have some blurriness.”



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