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'We just don't know:' Questions remain after crash kills trooper going 122 mph

'We just don't know:' Questions...

BARABOO, Wis. - Weather and speed were factors in the fatal crash of a Wisconsin state trooper in April, according to the reconstruction done by a Sauk County sheriff's deputy, but it's unknown what caused the vehicle to go out of control.

Sauk County Sgt. James Hodges spent the last two months trying to piece together what caused Trooper Anthony Borostowski's car to crash on April 11.  Borostowski died as a result of the crash on Interstate 90/94 just north of Highway 23 in Sauk County. 

Video taken from a traffic camera shows Borostowski was passed by a vehicle around 4:30 a.m. that morning while he was parked in the median. It's unknown whether the passing vehicle was speeding.  Borostowski is shown in the video turning on his headlights and driving out of sight of the camera, without lights and sirens.

Hodges said the trooper then accelerated his squad to speeds of 122 mph in a matter of seconds, nearly reaching its top speed of 130 mph.  Marks on the pavement showed the car skidding across the lane line, going airborne off the highway and crashing backward into a pine tree. Borostowski was killed instantly.  

Hodges said in the report that by traveling at those speeds, “he did not leave himself any margin of error should something go wrong."

Hodges also determined the environment to be a factor, according to the summary. The report notes it was dark outside at the time of the crash, and light rain was further limiting visibility. The roadway was also wet, according to the report, which reduced friction on the road.

"Given that it's nighttime, there's a light rainfall, the roadway is wet, you're not going to have good visibility, I would not have been doing 122 mph. There's no other way to say it," Hodges said.

But as for what caused Borostowski to lose control of the vehicle, Hodges says investigators were unable to determine a reason.

"You could guess all day long about what ifs and it could have been this or did a deer jump out, did he look down for something, did he not see a bridge coming, was he not familiar with the road, and none of those will be accurate for why this happened because we just don't know," Hodges said in an interview.

Hodges said there was limited information to work with at the scene.  Given the time of day, there was only one witness to the crash.  The traffic camera video could not identify the possibly speeding car, and the squad car that Borostowski was driving was not equipped with a dash camera.

"Any video footage, any other information that I could have had would have been wonderful," Hodges said.  "We have questions, we have unknowns, and we have no one to ask."

A spokeswoman and spokesman for the Department of Transportation tell News 3 that five percent of state patrol squad cars currently don't have cameras.  The DOT budget request for this year is asking for 500 new cameras for the vehicles, in part because the cameras are nearly 10 years old and are not reliable.

The request says in part that, "There have been multiple critical incidents in which the cameras failed to record footage that could have been useful in legal proceedings, incident debriefings and officer training and feedback."

The DOT declined an interview on the camera issue or crash investigation, saying that an internal investigation into what happened is underway.

Hodges says it's frustrating to not have a final answer to what caused the car to crash.

"Pick a thing and if we could find it we looked at it," Hodges said.  "When the dust settles on the reconstruction it can't tell us why he lost control or what led up to that.  So yes, it's very frustrating."

According to the report, Borostowski only had caffeine in his system at the time of the crash and there was no “intentional act on his part” that led to the accident. There were also no mechanical problems with the 2009 Ford he was driving and no structural factors on the road itself that could have contributed to the crash.
 


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