UW-RF chancellor killed in crash
Indications are that UW-River Falls Chancellor Ann Lydecker failed to stop for a stop sign at a rural Pierce County intersection early Thursday, March 25.
That failure appears to have led to her death.
Lydecker, 59, was probably killed almost instantly when her small state car, a 2002 Ford Taurus, was hit on the driver's side by a large pickup truck going at least 55 mph.
The crash occurred some seven miles south of River Falls at the intersection of County E and Hwy. 10 near St. Mary's Big River Church.
Lydecker, the first woman chancellor at UW-RF, was driving to UW-Platteville. She was invited to that campus as a guest speaker for Women's History Month.
Pierce County Sheriff Everett Muhlhausen said a final verdict on the fatal crash won't be known for a week or two until the State Patrol completes its "reconstruction investigation."
Muhlhausen said it seems clear that Lydecker did not stop. He said it's not yet clear yet whether she slowed for the stop sign or just drove right through.
"We'll know that better when the reconstruction work is done," the sheriff said.
The other driver, Robert Bang, 56, Ellsworth, works at 3M and was heading west on Hwy. 10 when he collided with Lydecker's southbound car.
"What he told us is that as he came down the hill to the intersection, the other driver appeared suddenly - quickly - right in front of him," Muhlhausen said. "There really wasn't any time to react."
The collision sent Lydecker's car spinning into a field on the southwest side of the intersection. Bang's truck ended up in the same direction but stayed on the road's shoulder. Bang had only cuts and scrapes and was not hospitalized.
Muhlhausen said when a deputy arrived on the scene minutes later, Lydecker was already dead.
While there was fog that morning, Muhlhausen said the intersection was clear at the time of the crash.
The sheriff's own review of recent countywide intersection accidents has turned up some "disturbing factors."
"Many are caused not only by drivers who have failed to obey stop signs, but by drivers who are from the area and have driven through the intersections before," he said.
Muhlhausen said it's impossible to speculate on why Lydecker went through the stop sign.
"Did she forget the sign was there? Was she preoccupied? We'll never know, I'm afraid," Muhlhausen said.
Lydecker's car was mechanically inspected after the accident and had no defects, such as faulty brakes, that would have prevented her from stopping.