Columbus house car crash file

A car operated by a suspected drunken driver crashed into a house south of Columbus on Aug. 5, trapping a woman inside a bedroom and leaving the car lodged sideways in the house. 

An incident in which a car crashed into the side of a house near Columbus and pinned a woman in her bedroom has authorities brainstorming how to address intoxicated driving and warning people of a roadway where multiple accidents have occurred.

Columbia County Sheriff Roger Brandner described the Aug. 5 crash as “really strange” to the county’s Public Safety Committee on Monday.

“She was really pinned in there. Thank God no one was killed in this, but it just shows you the problem of drunken driving and drugged driving,” Brandner said.

Brandner said his deputies arrested 29 impaired drivers in a span of just 30 days prior to the meeting.

“Until we get a handle on impaired driving, we’re gonna continue to see some things like this,” Brandner said. Columbia County Traffic Safety Commission member Chuck Miller said Friday the car launched over a nearby septic mound and landed in the house at N279 Highway 89.

Wisconsin Department of Transportation Traffic Safety Engineer Ryan Mayer told the Traffic Safety Commission on Friday that in the last 10 years, 10 accidents have occurred along the Highway 89 curve. Of those 10 crashes, Mayer said, all but one were caused by snow or ice, not alcohol.

“It’s not unusual for a car to leave the roadway,” said Columbia County Sheriff’s Lt. Todd Horn, the commission chairman. “The unusual thing is it hit a house.”

Miller said he saw news reports including comments from the property owner and the people who rent it stating on three separate occasions, drunken drivers have crashed into that house since they’ve owned it. Mayer told the commission the Department of Transportation could look back as far as 1994 to confirm whether other incidents have occurred at the same address.

“I think this is a pretty extreme case,” Mayer said.

Horn said some residents in the area have asked whether the state could build guardrails along Highway 89 to prevent similar crashes in the future. Horn said a 35 mph advisory sign is posted on Highway 89 near where the Aug. 5 crash occurred, but he suggested more signs could help warn drivers ahead of time about the sharp curve in the road.

The matter of whether to install additional signs will be listed on the commission’s next meeting agenda, Horn said.

Follow Brad on Twitter @BradMikeAllen or call him at 608-745-3510.


Portage Daily Register public safety reporter

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