EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WCCO) — Wisconsin State Troopers are investigating a single-vehicle crash that killed three teenagers and injured two others.

The State Patrol said the crash happened near Eau Claire around 7 p.m. Tuesday after a car was seen speeding in Washington Township.

The vehicle crashed, rolled over and ended up at the bottom of a steep hill near the 6500 block of Walnut Road. There were five teenagers inside.

All involved were reportedly students in the Eleva-Strum School District.

“When the phone rang at 6, I knew in my heart that something happened,” said the school’s superintendent, Craig Semingson.

According to the Eau Claire County Sheriff’s Office, 13-year-old Makena Johnson and 14-year-old Austin Gable were killed in the crash. Gable was the driver of the vehicle and he did not have a license.

Eau Claire County Sheriff Ron Cramer said the medical examiner told him one of the passengers, 15-year-old Marco Perez, also died after being transported to Sacred Heart Hospital.

Thirteen-year-old Ulises Ponce and 16-year-old Felicia Bertrang were injured. Both were taken to area hospitals, neither of which reported on their current conditions.

“The difficulty in this case is nobody had ID on them at this young age,” Eau Claire County Sheriff Ron Cramer told the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram.

The county sheriff’s office is still investigating, and a reconstruction team is working to determine the cause of the crash. The sheriff said speed was a contributing factor, and while alcohol is not suspected, toxicology tests will be conducted on the driver.

Comments (55)
  1. Joe Jr says:

    Imagine being the parents of the kids right now … young, dumb, invincible kids we all are at that age. Things are carefree, fun, wild, fast and great. Then a silly thing becomes a tragedy.
    My prayers go out the the victims families. So very sad

  2. Mayhem says:

    yet another reason to raise the drive age up several years…………..

    putting teens in charge of a missle with wheels is like putting Kim Jong Un in charge of a country with nukes.

    oh, wait………………….

    1. red says:

      I agree with raising the driving age to at least 18

      1. Come on folks ... please! says:

        Do you actually believe that would make a difference?
        It was the thrill of the new found “freedom” that we all experienced that made us a bit crazy when we started to drive as I remember. I’ve seen people speeding on gravel roads like kids and they can be 50.
        That said – lets drop the nasty comments. Some poor parents and families are in great pain right now – maybe put yourself in their place for even a second in your mind and you will cease the bs

        1. Matt says:

          Driver was 14, none of the 5 kids in the car were of driving age. So legal driving age doesn’t matter.

          1. What Next? says:

            Once again, where are the parents? How does a 14-year old drive w/o someone knowing? “Kids will be kids” just doesn’t cut it. No law will prevent actions like this.

            1. Baloney says:

              What glass house do you live in there? I used to take the car weekly when the folks went to sleep or the store shopping or at work. I was not tethered to them and they did not have 24×7 control over me. I pity the kid -, if they exist, that lives in a setting like that. I hear of the Helicopter Parents who accompany their kid into a bathroom even but ,.,,,,that is sick.
              They made a mistake. That’s how many learn. This one was made and had tragic results.
              Blaming the parents????? Man – you are totally clueless. Totally.
              I pray Santa loses your address for good

              1. Mom says:

                I am not a horrible parent. We didn’t know that our kid was driving. They were all switching drivers. How is a mother suppose to know what her child is doing when she lets them go with friends. You should be ashamed of yourself for accusing that. You shouldn’t wish a horrible Christmas on anyone. I have to live it without my daughter. How do you think I feel.

                1. newcraft says:

                  “How is a mother supposed to know what her child is doing when she lets them go with friends”

                  In all due respect – at 7 p.m. on a weeknight when school’s in session, it’s a parent’s job to know and to ask when their group isn’t even of legal driving age.

                  Sorry, it needed to be said.

                2. Brett says:

                  Like, DUH. Doesn’t just about every teenager and parent have a CELLPHONE BY NOW?? It’s a teen’s biggest TOY, they even go to bed with it, they can’t even imagine being without it for even an hour.

                3. Brett says:

                  I’m not wishing this on you, or any other decent parent, but the one common denominator that I see in situations like this is that the parent(s) try to be their kid(s) best FRIEND, instead of their kid(s) best PARENT, which means that you make reasonable rules, and enforce them. If they break the rules, there are definite, tough, and reasonable penalties, so as to hold the kid(s) accountable. Kids can learn from one of many ways, by a good example, by experiencing some ‘pain’, by seeing others pay a big price, or the HARD WAY. These teens learned the hard way.

              2. Elroy Manchester says:

                No Way, Baloney is RIGHT ON with his comments. What Next’s children are probably on their way to living in trailer courts.

          2. Thanks Matt for info says:

            Thanks – wow. This is about as sad and tragic as something can get. Young goofy kids being ….. goofy kids.
            I did lots of stuff that could have gone bad – luckily I was fortunate in that it did not – when I was a teen. For whatever reason I made it and learned from things in time.
            The poor families involved. The pain they feeling must be overwhelming

          3. MAJ says:

            That is really tragic. Lost a brother at that age in a traffic accident caused by a middle age driver that went thru a stop sign. My brother paid with his life and I forever miss him. My heart goes out to the teenagers families and friends.

          4. TL says:

            Even if they were “driving age…” might has well have been. Not much difference in maturity and intelligence driving wise anyways between 14 and 18.

          5. ECJudy says:

            According to reports here, the girl was the only licensed driver and had permission to use the car. Her mistake was to allow a minor behind th ewheel. This is a VERY sad situation . Thoughts and prayers to all.

          6. students from a nearby town says:

            there was one girl who had her license and had permission from her parents to take the car, but did NOT have permission to let anyone else drive it. the kid that was driving was 14 so we agree that driving age doesnt matter because it wasnt like someone too young had their license, he just didnt have it at all. people need to stop being so critical of these kids and their parents! has nobody been young before??? people think that kids our age are so terrible, but really, look who raised us! but even so, dont leave nasty comments about the parents because they can’t have control over their kids 24/7. kids need to learn to make decisions on their own. sadly, kids sometimes make wrong decisions that lead to tragic endings. our prayers go out to all the families and the 2 kids that are still alive, and even though we didnt personally know any of the kids, we love you and will miss you!! ❤

        2. TL says:

          bs? nah…statistics…its all there. so ya…it would make a BIG difference.

          Sometimes the truth hurts.

          and did you see them same 50 yr olds on the gravel crash while you were “seen ’em”?

          Guess I was a bit more responsible with my new found freedom around that age. And lucky I didnt surround myself with idiots that weren’t.

          1. One sick pig says:

            Hey idiot – I was roughly 1/4 miles past a 48 year old man and his wife and I WAS the one who made the call to Renville County Sheriff’s following a fatal accident 2 years ago outside town on a gravel road accident where I had just passed this guy who was maybe doing 60 when I was doing 40 tops.
            So while you are not directing this comment to me I got news for ya STUPID – it happens. Way to often. Gravel is gravel. People drive way to fast – and age isn’t a factor always.
            Just read your post again – you indeed live in some saintly world. And I agree – your bubble will someday pop but I disagree with thge other guy. I will be there clapping and cheering when the day comes.
            Tally ho you worthless mutt

            1. TL says:

              Im directing this comment to you now, since your post reads like a little boy who grew up on a toilet farm by one parent who was never home.

              Dont believe I said “age was always a factor…” I think I said something about statistics. Pehaps it is you that needs to re-read my post. You can read, right?

              Wouldnt be surprised if you caused the accident….going 40 and all. While the rest of the world goes 60.

              And yes, I am saintly….never been in an accident or has ever had so much as a speed ticket.. high ol’ silver…..awaaaaaaay..with you!!!!

              1. @TL says:

                Obviously you are a snide immature and truly evil POS TL and your toilet reading posts bear it out.
                It also is apparent you don’t live in nor drive in th erural areas where garvel roads are a slippery death, ridges cut into them by a grader make them take you left to right then further and a simple over-correction by anyone can lead to a ditch and disaster. Going even 40 on some of these roads is to damn fast …. but it seems you know it all so why bother trying to tell an dumb fool a thing.
                Obviously you are an unbalanced and sick person. One hopes you can get the help you need at some point. Or not and maybe live inside the walls that surround you. If I has your ISP it would be assured you won’t post here again. Okay – actually that can be accomodated easy enough at that. Good bye there TL

                1. @ @TL says:

                  uh, your forgot the maniacal laughter at the end of your drivel @TL

                  ya, Ive never driven on a gravel road. right…go with that, genius. Sounds like your one of the idiots that drives like one if you know so much about what driving on gravel is like.

                  good though, I touched a nerve. my job is done….unfortunately you’ll still keep posting. But try and wear a hockey helmet or better yet, one of them aerodynamic pointed at the ends bike helmets, when you type. Less chance of more concussions affecting your lack of intelligence.

                  Oh, and I’m still a saint…as of this postiing, have yet to get a speed ticket or accident. Goodbye @TL!!!!

        3. red says:

          that was not a nasty comment- it was a personal opinion. I am shocked now to see that a 14 year kid was driving. wow-

  3. rml says:

    I dunno…. I have mixed feelings about this ….. the kids were only 14 and 15. While this is an awful thing to happen, it goes beyond the “being a goofy kid” stage…. and I do sort of see the poster’s point about where were the parents and how does a 14 year old kid take off with the family car so easily without being seen. I don’t think kids should be able to drive until they are 18, there are just way too many bad accidents too similar to this one happening these days, and while some kids will drive anyway, I think raising the driving age at least would be a start, and perhaps making the laws for driving without a license more tough too. What a horrible thing to happen, but this is just more than kids being goofy in my opinion, there is a difference between a joyride and being goofy, and being reckless and out of control. Horribly sad.

  4. GEt.a.LiFE says:

    really? raise the driving age?! that wont do anything. they will be just as “lead foot” as they would have been getting there liscense at 16. this was a tragic ACCIDENT which took the lives of kids to young. the most we can do right now is to pray for the family during this hard time in this holiday season.
    young dumb and dead? really?! how heartless can yu be.

  5. rml says:

    Raising the driving age would be a “start” at least….. and why not have stiffer fines and penalties for driving without a license? You have to start somewhere…. If you look at all the accidents that teens are involved in these days…. raising the driving age is a good idea and it will keep some of them from being foolish, even if it saved one life it would be worth it…..

    1. students from a nearby town says:

      he didnt have his license so how would raising the driving age make any difference?? raising the age would just make more teens want to break the law! the more you tell kids they cant do something, the more they’re going to want to do it! leave the driving age where it’s at. and how would stiffer fines and penalties help?? there isnt a cop for every single person in this country. people will still do it and kids will still be kids! come on people!!

  6. me says:

    …kid speeding….what do you expect?…

  7. Sandy says:

    Very sad and tragic, this photo should be placed where every single Jr. High age and High School kid across the country has to look at it every single day!

    1. ESU says:

      Agreed- this car needs to be placed where children can see it. Remember these were children- how can we protect and keep our children safe without hovering yet providing a safety net. My heart goes out to all the grieving families. Remember we are all our brother’s keepers.

      1. Ben in WI says:

        Seems to me they put cars all over showing nasty accidents involving accidents…one greats you at the State fair even.
        A helluva lot of good that does now doesn’t it. 😉
        I know – lock up all the kids in America in shackles until they are old enough to know better. I dunno – maybe that age is 70-75 or so.
        Tragic. Sad. Terrible loss for the family and loved ones.
        Preventable? Sure – in hindsight everything is.
        Guess the parents maybe shouldn’t have owned a car and used horses instead. Or what – then they could get kicked in the head too.
        It was a fatal mistake, a fatal accident. It could happen to anyone though and that is the fact

        1. Homer says:

          Accident – noun – unavoidable incident

          Dumb mistake – noun – avoidable incident

          This was the latter, as most auto “accidents” are.

  8. Kevin says:

    I live in Spring Valley Wisconsin for a few years. Children being killed in car crashes happens alot out there. I dont really know why….boredom….alcohol……seclusion……attitude…..not sure….but it happend alot…

    1. Montgomery MN says:

      in rural MN too. I lost 2 neighbor guys who had lived on farms nearby. Both were on gravel roads and speed a factor. One was mid-20s and the other 15 or 16.
      Gravel – fast driving – it is a deadly combo

  9. Maybe ...someone knows says:

    Reading the postings I need to ask this question to some of you.
    Were you born full of venom ? and judgemental from birth also ?
    I am serious – this is about 5 young kids, 2 of whom did not live. And here you are critiquing the parents, the system, tearing into other posters. What on earth is your problem?

    1. newcraft says:

      Can’t speak for others – but the first question needs to be thrown to the parents. 13 and 14 year olds driving a car with no adults? There’s an issue there. Either a miscommunication, kids being deceptive, or one or more parents who weren’t paying attention. Had there been an interested parent stepping in and wondering where their car was or who their kid was with, this whole thing might have been avoided. It’s a relevant question and would be a disservice to pretend that it wasn’t.

      1. Richard in Minneapolis says:

        And just how many times do you get up from the couch during a football game or movie just to check if the car is still in the driveway?

        1. Thanks for honesty says:

          Amen Richard

        2. newcraft says:

          The question is – do you know where your 13-year-old son or daughter is at 7 at night?

          Sheesh – priorities! This is precisely WHY this kind of stuff happens – more important for you folks to watch the t.v. than to care where your kids are at!

        3. Brett says:

          Don’t have to. I know where my car keys are at all times, and if they are missing, and my car is too, then I call the cops and tell them to try and find my STOLEN car, if it is a kid of mine who took it. If a kid of mine comes back, I would put the fear of God into them, and tell them that if they take my car without permission ever again, I will call the cops and if they catch you, you will be arrested and charged with auto theft. Better to have that than a mangled car with dead bodies inside.

      2. students from a nearby town says:

        once again. there was a licensed driver in the car, but she was only 16. her parents gave her permission to drive the car. all the kids were good friends so im sure the other kids’ parents knew that they were with her, but didnt know that she wasnt driving. its terrible to be so negative toward all these parents who are probably already blaming themselves anyways.

  10. Elroy Manchester says:

    A terrible comment from a terrible bum of a human…robby, get some class lowlife.

  11. newcraft says:

    Seems to me raising the driving age wouldn’t have prevented this, there was more than one law broken – there was only one person in the car who was even of legal license age, and they weren’t driving! Even when you get your license at 16, there’s a limit on how many passengers you can have right away and having to be accompanied by an adult licensed driver for a time. More than one legal issue with this joyride.

    Sounds to me like kids who weren’t being followed too closely by parents. I know sometimes kids will find ways to go behind parent’s backs, but where did a pack of 14-yr olds get access to a car to be driving around by themselves? When the grieving is done, they need to ask the parents some serious questions.

  12. Shirley Glaser says:

    This is a horrible tragedy – It is obvious all the comments are being stated by adults. Those of you that have made these negative comments should be ashamed of your self. How would you like to be the parents of one of these young kids and read these negative comments when they are grieving the loss of a child, what has to be a horrible feeling. I don’t care their ages, who was driving, how this happened. THESE FIVE CHILDREN HAVE PARENTS – SIBLINGS, no doubt, AND EXTENDED FAMILY SO LET’s HAVE SOME HEARTFELT FEELINGS FOR THESE FAMILY INSTEAD OF CRITICIZING THEM. LET’S PLACE THEM IN OUR PRAYERS AND REMEMBER IT IS CHRISTMAS – AND THEIR CHRISTMAS SEASON IS FACED WITH A FAMILY TRAGEDY. My Prayers and Thoughts are with each of these families and may the Good Lord put his loving arms around each of them.

    1. Marilyn says:

      Shirley; well stated and not much more to add. Some people bluntly are nasty and evil within. They prey on others msfortunes and seem to revel it their good fortune and their “purity” or whatever they perceive it to be. Thankfully the vast majority of the people in the world share honorable and sincere values and emotions.
      I cannot begin to fathom the pain being suffered. I lost a son to an adult driver who was charged and convicted as DUI. That was 22 years ago this month and I still feel the pain. He was only 17

    2. newcraft says:

      Could be just me – but I wouldn’t be surfing the internet after a tragic loss like this, Shirley. It’s an open forum to discuss things that happen in reality. And in reality, it appears that there were 5 kids too young to be driving unattended in a car that none of them owned themselves – there ARE legitimate concerns here.

  13. Homer says:

    Out here in Maryland, two years ago, we had an underlicensed kid (restrictions until you’re 18 – no non-family passengers, no dark driving) with 5 other kids in a volvo doing 70 on a windy, hilly road marked 25 in places. Hit a tree so hard that the engine wound up in the back seat. One kid without seatbelts was ejected and killed. Son of a police captain. All driving back from some church event. The pastor saw the kids, knew the driver was illegal, and let them go anyway.

    Now the dad does all these presentations about safe driving, blah blah blah.

    The classmates lobbied to have the speed limit on the road lowered to 20 mph (as if a kid doing 70 in a 25 wouldn’t do 70 in a 20).

    The one thing I haven’t heard from ANYONE?

    The driver and the other kids were STUPID. And now he’s dead and one girl is crippled. Stupid actions have stupid consequences. But this police captain / dad goes on and on about child drivers license laws and car safety features. He can’t just admit his kid was dumb as a stump.

    By the way, the pastor is still pastoring, too. That’s organized religion for ya.

    These kids were also stupid. And now they’re dead. Cause and effect, not heartless thoughts.

    1. Brett says:

      I remember a horrific crash in Ocala, FL a few years back. Some 18 year old got the keys to his dad’s BMW M5, powered by a 500hp V-12 engine I believe. He tried to find out why the car wouldn’t go faster than 140mph, it was because it had a speed limiter on it. He picked up 4 of his buddies, went to a private airstrip, maxed out the speed on the car, flew off of the elevated airstrip at the end and hit a tree about 15-20 feet above the base of the trunk. All 5 died, the car hit the tree so hard that the engine was dislodged from the car. It’s probably still on the internet somewhere.

  14. Brett says:

    Many say that this can’t be prevented, I disagree. Locking up keys (especially spare keys) in a strong lock box or safe would have done the trick, along with a very stern warning (as in putting the fear of GOD into teens) would produce good results, at least most of the time. I’m not trying to be mean, but I do believe that this can be prevented.

  15. Concerned Parent says:

    Please do not bash the Parents. I have no connection to this other than following it in the news. Read the MOM comment previously, and consider the fact that cco indeed reported that the 16 yr old was licensed and the car was registered to those parents. Wether or not the 16 yr old had permission to take the car is unknown. Yes it was the 14 yr old who was driving, (again refer to MOM post). How can a parent be responsible for this if they trusted their daughter to take the car and go out. It could have been out of their control. No one knows what goes on after letting a child legaly taking the car out to see friends. I know this first hand! Do not pass judgement until all facts are known. I will continue to keep ALL families in our prayers no matter what the outcome.

  16. Brett says:

    Cars, guns, alcohol, drugs, parents today have to be evermore vigilant to make sure that their teens don’t get unapproved access to these things. I’m sure that it isn’t always easy, teens can be a pretty big pain in the butt sometimes, and today’s laws don’t allow parents to discipline their kids like they once did. Incidents like this are the result. Next will come the lawsuits, and even more lives will be ruined. Spare the rod, spoil the child seems to be the new norm. I’m surprised that things like this don’t happen more often.

  17. Chris Williamson says:

    Stupidity is what kids do best. We were all so resilient back then it seemed as though we were invincible. Reading a lot of the comments on here I saw a lot of “Where were the parents?”… Where was the true friends who looked out for each other, is what I want to know. No matter how hard we pushed each other to the line, we were always there to make sure none of us crossed it. Prayers and Blessings to the families who have lost their children through this.

  18. Richard Betts says:

    Saw a report on another site: Aunt of the girl who died in this crash was two-months’ pregnant and the father of the child was her boyfriend/the driver of the car.

    That makes it all the sadder, though we have to remember these people were doing something wrong and they knew it. Whether they deserved to die for their actions is irrelevant, but hopefully others willl learn.

  19. mr obvious says:

    Steve walks warily down the street,
    With the brim pulled way down low
    Ain’t no sound but the sound of his feet,
    Machine guns ready to go

    Are you ready,
    Are you ready for this
    Are you hanging on the edge of your seat
    Out of the doorway the bullets rip
    To the sound of the beat

    Another one bites the dust
    Another one bites the dust
    And another one gone, and another one gone
    Another one bites the dust
    Hey, I’m gonna get you too
    Another one bites the dust

    How do you think I’m going to get along,
    Without you, when you’re gone
    You took me for everything that I had,
    And kicked me out on my own

    Are you happy, are you satisfied
    How long can you stand the heat
    Out of the doorway the bullets rip
    To the sound of the beat


    Another one bites the dust
    Another one bites the dust
    Another one bites the dust
    Another one bites the dust
    There are plenty of ways you can hurt a man
    And bring him to the ground
    You can beat him
    You can cheat him
    You can treat him bad and leave him
    When he’s down
    But I’m ready, yes I’m ready for you
    I’m standing on my own two feet
    Out of the doorway the bullets rip
    Repeating the sound of the beat

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