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THE CITY REBORN FROM THE ASHES OF AMERICA'S MOST DISASTROUS FOREST FIRE
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Fog Was Possibly Factor In Fatal Hwy. 141 Train Crash

Issue Date: December 22, 2021

A multiple vehicle crash involving a train and several vehicles on Hwy. 141 in the Town of Pound between Coleman and Pound at about 11:15 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 15 caused the death of one man - Steven J. Buss, 58, of Kaukauna - and injuries to two others. Visibility at the time of the crash was reportedly very low due to heavy fog in the area.

Marinette County Sheriff Jerry Sauve reported that at 11:17 a.m. on Wednesday, Dec. 15, Marinette County Dispatch began receiving calls reporting a crash that involved several vehicles and a derailed train.

"Law enforcement, rescue squads and fire departments were all dispatched to this very dangerous scene due to the fog causing very low visibility," Sauve said. He later was quoted as saying that under the fog conditions it was hard to see the railroad crossing warning lights from any distance.

Eventually, investigation revealed that the Escanaba & Lake Superior train was crossing the four lane highway from east to west. A loaded tanker semi full of fuel had stopped in the right northbound lane and a large service van had stopped in the left northbound lane.

A statement from the Marinette County Sheriff's Office said fog had reduced visibility in the area to less than a couple hundred feet.

Out of the fog, a dump truck struck the service van from behind, forcing that van under the train. Another dump truck then hit the first dump truck "and also impacted the train with such force to derail the train, causing complete blockage of both northbound and southbound lanes of U.S. Highway 141," Sauve's report stated.

Once on the scene, one of the vehicles then started on fire. The Pound Fire Department along with others quickly extinguished the fire.

The driver of the service van, later identified as Buss, was killed in the crash. He was the lone occupant in his vehicle.

The operators of both dump trucks were injured and transported to the hospital for treatment. Their conditions are not known but no reports of any life threatening injuries had been received, according to Sauve's statement.

The Marinette County Sheriff's Office was assisted at the scene by numerous fire, law enforcement, and Emergency Medical Services teams. They included the Wisconsin State Patrol, Wisconsin DNR, Oconto County Sheriff, Coleman Police Department, Coleman Rescue, Crivitz Rescue, Bay Area Aurora Paramedics, Brazeau Rescue, Pound-Brazeau Fire, Coleman Fire, Town of Stephenson Fire, Town of Peshtigo Fire, Grover Porterfield Fire, Marinette Fire, Town of Lake Fire, Middle Inlet Fire, Crivitz Fire, Lena Fire, Lena Police Department, Oconto Falls Police Department, Marinette City Police Department, Marinette County Highway Department, Marinette County Highway Commissioner, Marinette County Medical Examiner, and the Escanaba & Lake Superior Railroad derailment team, which came up from Chicago to assist with cleanup.

Pound/Brazeau Fire Chief Turner Gross had high compliments for Marinette County's 911 Emergency Dispatch Department for their organized and efficient handling of the crash and the many emergency responders who were summoned to the scene.

Sheriff Sauve extended a special thank you to the Village of Coleman for use of their Municipal Building and to Coleman Subway, which provided food and beverages to all the workers during the lengthy investigation and clean up.

The affected segment of Hwy. 141, Between Pound and Coleman, was closed by Wisconsin Department of Transportation's Northeast Region from shortly after the crash until 12:15 p.m. Thursday, when cleanup was reportedly complete.

For the 24 plus hours that rescue and cleanup work were in progress, southbound traffic was detoured west on Hwy. 64 to Business 141 (County CP) in Pound, and then south back to Hwy. 141 at Coleman. Route was the reverse for northbound traffic.

Sauve said investigation of the accident is continuing by the Sheriff's Office, Wisconsin State Patrol, and Marinette County Medical Examiner's Office.

This was the eighth traffic fatality of 2021 in Marinette County.


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