Residents stress for road changes along Hwy 26 after doctor killed in ambulance crash

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by Lane Kimble

WAUPUN -- Jeremiah Hoekstra grew up on an infamous curve along Highway 26 near Rosendale. 

"It's always been bad, it's always been bad," Hoekstra said.  He saw plenty of bad crashes, including a deadly one when he was just 12 years old.

"it was very... I'll always remember it," Hoekstra said.

More than 20 years later, another deadly crash Wednesday at that same curve killed a Madison-area doctor riding in an ambulance that flipped on its side.  32-year-old Dr. Stanley Phillips was a first year pediatric fellow with UW Hospital.

"I come over here to take a look, see what happened," neighbor Maurice Ely said.  "It was sad.  It was really, really bad."

Ely was mowing his lawn across the street when the ambulance crashed.  He's seen similar things happen far too many times at this spot.

"It's not a sharp curve, you can see plenty far ahead, you know at what's coming," Ely said.  "And yet people run off the road.  I just can't understand it."

Since 2011, there have been six injury accidents and one other deadly one at the curve.  It's such a big problem, a Fond du Lac County Sheriff's Deputy monitors traffic there at least four hours a day.

"People are in a hurry, the truck traffic they want to pass," Sgt. John Toney said.  "Nobody these days seems to be behind, everybody wants to be the leader."

Sheriff's deputies say they're doing all they can.  Now it might be up to the state to fix things.

"I'm sure the Wisconsin Department of Transportation is aware of those facts and maybe they will look at the statistics and see if there's something that can be done," Toney said.

But after seeing two people die here, Hoekstra wonders why more hasn't been done sooner.

"I honestly wish that it wouldn't take somebody losing their life for something to happen here," Hoekstra said.

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