3 killed in 2 crashes in Rock County

Authorities believe alcohol a factor in crashes
3 killed in 2 crashes in Rock County

Three people have died in two crashes in the Town of Janesville over the weekend.

Alcohol is believed to be a factor in both of those crashes on a weekend when drunken driving patrols were increased across the state.

Police said that just before 10:30 p.m. Saturday, Tara Carlson, 39, of Janesville, was arrested after she ran a stop sign and hit another vehicle at the intersection of Highway 11 and County Highway B while driving drunk.

A man in the other vehicle, James M. Menard, 64, of Chicago, was killed in the crash.

The other three people in Menard’s car were taken to a hospital and have since been released.

Carlson remained hospitalized Monday, but upon her release she will be arrested on four charges, including three counts of causing injury by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle and one count of homicide by intoxicated use of a motor vehicle.

“If you drive and drink and you’re under the influence, we’re going to come get you,” said Rock County Sheriff Rob Spoden.

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The second crash killed 19-year-old Travis Simon, of Edgerton, and a passenger, 18-year-old Emanuel Ocelot. That crash happened around 2 a.m. early Sunday morning just a few miles from the first crash scene.

Rick Bush said he was awakened by loud noises coming from across the street.

“It was really scary. It woke us up from a sound sleep,” Bush said.

As his wife dialed 911, he walked toward his neighbor’s yard to get a closer look at the scene. He could see something lying on the ground, but couldn’t make out what it was. He said he learned later it was a body.

Police said Simon was driving in the 5200 block of West Mineral Point Road outside of Janesville when tried to pass two vehicles and lost control. His car entered the ditch and rolled several times. Simon was ejected and died at the scene. Ocelot was also ejected and died at a hospital.

Sheriff’s officials said alcohol and speed are believed to be factors, and neither victim was wearing a seat belt.

“You put the combination of both their ages, as well as putting in the mix of alcohol, and it really sets up the situation for a really tragic ending,” Spoden said.

Three backseat passengers fled the scene, but investigators later found them. Those three were brought to a hospital before they were questioned by deputies.

Janesville police said they are looking further into a party that preceded the crash where there was allegedly underage drinking.

After hearing about what happened so close to his home, Bush and his wife called their children. Even though they’re grown up, Bush said they had to know their family was OK before he and his wife were able to sleep soundly again.

“Something needs to be done. Drinking and driving is so bad,” Bush said.

Spoden said OWI incidents are decreasing in Rock County, and said he was confident that he and his staff were effectively getting the warning out about the dangers of drinking and driving.

Spoden said OWI patrols and crews looking out for speeding are patrolling on a regular basis. 

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