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Crews struggle to find site of rollover crash

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ROCHELLE B. BIRKELO
October 24, 2009
— Emergency crews tried for nearly a half hour early Friday morning to locate two people injured in a rollover crash 2 miles east of Clinton on Interstate 43.

The passenger in the rolled sport-utility vehicle called 911 from her cell phone. A dispatcher in Walworth County answered the call at 3:01 a.m.


The woman gave the dispatcher an approximate location, and the dispatcher sent emergency crews, but GPS technology at the dispatch center could not pinpoint the crash site. The dispatcher kept the woman on the phone until 3:19 a.m., a spokesperson for the Walworth County dispatch center said.


The woman hung up and called 911 again. This time, a dispatcher in Rock County answered the call at 3:23 p.m. The Rock County center was able to pinpoint the location of the caller using GPS.


Emergency crews arrived within five minutes.


The weather and location of the vehicle hampered rescue efforts, Wisconsin State Patrol Trooper Brandon Ferrell said.


The driver, John Watters, 44, and his passenger, Bonita Wheeler, 45, both of Machesney Park, Ill., were extricated after the roof was cut off, Ferrell said. They were treated and released at Beloit Memorial Hospital.


Watters was driving west at about 3 a.m. when he switched lanes and lost control of his 1995 Ford Explorer at Carvers Rock Road between Darien and Clinton, Ferrell said. The SUV crossed the shoulder and hit the end of a guard rail, breaking off six guard rail posts before rolling twice and landing in the ditch, he said.


Watters will be cited for driving too fast for conditions, Ferrell said.



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