The Wisconsin State Senate Minority Leader Janet Bewley is in some very serious trouble. She was involved in a car accident that killed a mother and her child, and we’re now hearing that the senator was likely on her phone at the very time of the accident. And ironically, she was talking to a reporter from the Journal Sentinel newspaper at the time of impact. To make matters worse, the senator just had eye surgery the day before, reports show. Police suspect Bewley was responsible for the accident. They do not suspect any booze was involved, but I wonder if she was on any painkillers? The senator was not injured in the accident.
This is what I found regarding the laws about “distracted driving” in Wisconsin:
In an effort to reduce cell phone-related distractions, Wisconsin lawmakers have taken great strides to strengthen the laws regarding cell phone usage. Per Wisconsin statute 346.89(3)(b)4, drivers may legally use a cell phone to communicate in a hands-free format, as long as the driver does not need to hold the phone. Drivers are permitted to text only with the assistance of a voice-activated function that does not require manual operation of the device. In Wisconsin, it is illegal for a motorist to:
Type or read text messages and emails
Use any application (other than maps) while driving
Hold a phone while using the speakerphone function
Make or answer calls by pressing multiple buttons
These laws apply to the operator of the vehicle as long as the car is in drive, which means texting at a stoplight is also prohibited. Furthermore, it is illegal for anyone with a probationary license to use a cell phone, even with hands-free options.
I am not sure how she was on her phone, whether she was “hands-free” as the law allows, or if she was holding the phone. But either way, this woman was clearly distracted.
Also, here’s what I found online about driving after cataract surgery:
Post-surgery, it’s common for vision to be blurry for a few days. Many people can drive again within 24 hours. However, it’s highly recommended you do not drive until you’ve seen your eye doctor after the surgery. Your ophthalmologist may recommend you wait a few more days before driving.
JS Online reported that twenty-seven-year-old Alyssa Ortman of Pennsylvania and her 5-year-old daughter, Khaleesi Fink, died Friday after a car crash on Highway 2 in Ashland that involved Senate Minority Leader Janet Bewley, a Democrat who represents northwestern Wisconsin.
Ashland Police Chief Bill Hagstrom said the Wisconsin State Patrol is investigating the crash and should wrap up its review this week. At that point, the matter will be referred to the Ashland County District Attorney’s office to consider whether to file charges.
Hagstrom said prosecutors review all fatal crashes to determine whether parties are criminally liable.
Brandon Fink, father to Khaleesi, told the Journal Sentinel in an email he believes Bewley is at fault for the crash.
Bewley had cataract surgery the day before the crash and was on the phone with a Journal Sentinel reporting intern when the crash occurred. Police have not yet determined how the crash began.
“Her nor no one from her team or people have reached out to me or said sorry or offered to help. I want this to be known how meaningless her killing my family is to her,” Fink said.
In a statement, a spokesman for Bewley said the event was heartbreaking and that the senator’s thoughts and prayers “are focused on the individuals involved, their families and their loved ones.”
According to the Ashland Police Department, Bewley pulled out of a Lake Superior beach entrance on Friday afternoon and into the path of a car driven by Ortman. When Ortman’s car collided with Bewley’s, it spun across the highway and was hit by another vehicle.
Ortman’s daughter was pronounced dead at the crash scene. Ortman was transported to a nearby hospital where she later died, according to police.
“They were wonderful, wonderful, wonderful souls,” Urbanik said.
The victim’s mother/grandmother is worried the senator will not be charged because of her status and power, and after everything we’ve seen with our two-tiered justice system, I don’t blame her for feeling this way. Sadly, she’s probably right.
Even though it won’t bring back her daughter or granddaughter, she should sue the pants off of the senator.
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