MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) – Officials are investigating a crash on a highway in St. Croix County, Wisconsin, that left three people dead.
A motorcyclist and two people traveling in a car collided at an intersection just after 7 p.m. Friday night. All three died at the scene.
The St. Croix County sheriff received a call about a broken stop sign at the intersection of Highway 64 and County Road T.
“We don’t believe it was down all that long,” St. Croix County Sheriff Scott Knudson said.
Moments later, witnesses were calling 911 to report a crash in that same intersection.
Motorcyclist 34-year-old Cody Lynn Cook-Terhurne of Somerset had the right of way on Highway 64 when he collided with a car crossing the intersection of County Road T. Authorities say 55-year-old Thomas John Plasch was driving the car and 46-year-old Miriam Rosal Espinosa was his passenger. Both Plasch and Espinosa were from Oakdale, Minnesota.
Witnesses say the driver of the car did stop at the broken sign, and authorities believe the broken sign was not a factor in the crash.
“It was a pretty horrendous crash,” Knudson said. “There’s a possibility based on speeds that they may not have even seen him coming.”
The sheriff’s office confirmed numerous witnesses said Cook-Terhurne was traveling at a very high rate of speed. Someone also reported that minutes earlier, a motorcyclist matching Cook-Terhurne’s description had been passing other motorists “on the center line as there was on-coming traffic, passing on the right and on a hill.”
Just steps from the accident scene, crosses overlook the rural roadway.
“This intersection over the years has been an area where we’ve had some fatalities,” Knudson said.
These are dangers that constantly sober motorcyclists like Dennis Smolik.
“I gotta watch everybody else. I don’t worry about me, I’ve been riding many years, it’s the other people that I’ve got to watch,” Smolik said.
“I love to ride, but I’m reminded that it’s a dangerous sport,” motorcyclist Daniel Frigo said.
Sheriff Knudson says they’ve added rumble strips and medians over the years to remedy this troublesome intersection.
“We’ll take a big-picture look as we have over many years,” Knudson said.
But the chilling reminder overlooking the intersection is proof that this roadway can be deadly.
Toxicology reports will be performed on both drivers. Authorities say this crash makes the sixth, seventh and eighth traffic deaths recorded by the county this year.