CRIME AND COURT ROUNDUP: Fifteen-year anniversary of 'Big Blue' in Milwaukee
Mention the words "Big Blue" in Milwaukee, and many folks will know what you're talking about. Fifteen years ago today, three iron-workers were killed when a 567-foot Big Blue crane collapsed as it was lifting one of the large panels onto the retractable roof at the Miller Park baseball stadium. It was windy at the time. The crane hit a basket containing William DeGrave, Jeffrey Wischer, and Jerome Starr. They fell about 300-feet to deaths, and it delayed the opening of the new ballpark by a year -- to 2001. Attorney Robert Habush represented the three widows, and they ended up getting 57-million dollars after a trial and a later settlement. Habush said he remembers Wischer's widow leaving him a phone message just hours after the incident. He said her husband was concerned about the safety of the construction site for some time -- and if something happened to him, she should call Habush. The company that leased the crane, Mitsubishi Heavy Industries, was found 97-percent negligent and the crane's owner three-percent. A sculpture honoring the three iron-workers is located just outside the home plate entrance to Miller Park.
Sierra Guyton died yesterday. She's the ten-year-old Milwaukee girl who was shot in crossfire while playing with her sister at a school playground on May 21st. Sierra died at 1:35 yesterday morning at Milwaukee Children's Hospital, where she was taken off life-support last month. Police said 18-year-old Sylvester Lewis and 28-year-old Jamey Jackson were shooting at each other to settle a previous dispute, and Sierra was caught in the middle. Both men face criminal charges. Friends and relatives gathered at the Guyton home yesterday afternoon. The girl's father Onjuan pointed out that the nearby Clarke Street Elementary School playground sat empty during a nice sunny day in which it would normally be full. A balloon launch and a candlelight vigil will be held at the playground tonight.
Three people were rescued from their sinking boat on Madison's Lake Mendota. Dane County authorities said the 15-foot boat started taking on water late yesterday morning -- and it sank quickly in about 13 feet of water near Governor's Island. Officials said a nearby boater and a passenger saw the incident, and they rescued the three people from their sinking craft. The three were not wearing life jackets. One of them couldn't swim.
One person was killed, and two others were seriously hurt after a one-vehicle crash near Crandon in northeast Wisconsin. It happened early yesterday afternoon on the Old-Eight Road in the Forest County town of Crandon. A medical examiner pronounced one victim dead at the scene. The other two were sent to a Rhinelander hospital. The State Patrol is helping sheriff's deputies investigate. Details of the crash were not immediately released.
An electrical problem is suspected in a fire that caused heavy damage to a wire fabricating plant in Merrill. Somebody called 9-1-1 about 1:30 yesterday morning, after seeing smoke from the roof of the Northern Wire plant. When fire-fighters arrived, a large part of the facility was engulfed in flames. The exact cause remains under investigation. Nobody was hurt. Units from six area fire departments helped put out the blaze. One broadcast report said the damage totaled two-million dollars. According to its Web site, Northern Wire is owned by the Elgin Fastener Group of Batesville Indiana. It makes custom wire-forming, welding, and shaping for farm equipment, lawn and garden equipment, R-V's, construction, and more.
Federal officials are investigating the crash of a single-engine plane in Waukesha. Two people suffered minor injuries when the plane crash-landed in a field early yesterday afternoon, about a mile from Waukesha's airport. Neither person had to be sent to a hospital. They were treated at the scene. The Fox River Flyers Club of Waukesha owned the craft, which was a 1976 Piper. The F-A-A will try to figure out the cause.
A former northeast Wisconsin man was killed in Chicago over the weekend, in what police call a case of mistaken identity. The Chicago Tribune said 28-year-old Wil Lewis was shot in the back while standing along a street on Saturday in the Rogers Park neighborhood. He was a photographer who was supposed to start a new job today in the Windy City. Lewis was born in Guatemala. He was adopted and moved to Sturgeon Bay at age-seven, where his father Joseph Lewis was the high school principal at the time. The family moved to Kaukauna when Joseph got another job there. Wil Lewis graduated from Kaukauna High School in 2005. According to his Linked-In page, he earned a photography degree at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, before working as a free-lance photographer in Chicago for several years.