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Father grieves for daughter killed in wrong-way driving crash

Father grieves for daughter killed in wrong-way driving crash

By Erik Bilstad. CREATED Nov 29, 2011

Click here to listen to the entire wrong-way segment that aired Tuesday on Wisconsin's Afternoon News.

LAKE MILLS - Every so often, stories about wrong-way drivers crashing on the interestate pop up in the news.  Whenever Chris Davis spots them in the newspaper, he avoids them.

"If I see it, I won't even read it," Davis recently told me.

Davis lost his 24-year-old daughter Nicole in a wrong-way crash nearly five years ago.

Nicole, a recent graduate at UW-Whitewater, was on her way home from work early one morning in January 2007.  She was on I-94 near Cottage Grove when the unthinkable happened.

"She was east-bound and the woman that hit her somehow got on the interstate going west-bound in the east-bound lane," Davis said.  "She hit (Nicole) head on."

A 58-year-old woman was driving the other car.  Police don't know where or how she happened to get on the highway the wrong-way.

"There were a couple of phone calls (from drivers) alerting police someone was going the wrong way," Davis explained.  "Police couldn't get there in time."

"They came upon the accident."

Both drivers were killed.  

According to law enforcement officials, the majority of wrong-way crashes are due to drunk driving, but not all of them.  Alcohol wasn't involved in this case.  The driver may have been on medication that caused her to be confused.  But the State Patrol never really came up with a clear cause.

How to prevent wrong-way driving

Davis believes interstate ramps should be retrofitted with sensors that track wrong-way drivers.

Believe it or not, that technology already exists.  That type of technology isn't free, of course.  But that makes no difference to a grieving father who lost his daughter.

"It might be costly but what is a human life worth?" Davis pondered.  "It's worth more than a sign or a blinking light."