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Hwy. 63 intersection with CTH.Y described as "bad corner"

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news Ellsworth, 54011
Pierce County Herald
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Ellsworth Wisconsin 126 S. Chestnut St. 54011

Following Saturday's crash at County Road Y and State Highway 63 in Pierce County that killed two Red Wing residents, Pierce County Sheriff Nancy Hove said that intersection will be evaluated for its safety.

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"Basically that corner is a bad corner," she said. "With County Road Y veering off at highway speeds, it makes it kind of dangerous."

Just before 10 p.m. Saturday, Scott Mikael Kull, 22, was driving northbound on Highway 63. In order to continue north on County Road Y, he went straight just before the highway takes a sharp curve to the east, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation reported.

But as Kull crossed the southbound lane of Highway 63, his vehicle collided head-on with a southbound vehicle driven by Trent B. Wentlandt, 25, of Bay City. The vehicles then caught on fire and were engulfed in flames when emergency crews arrived on scene, the Pierce County Sheriff's Department reported.

Both Kull and Traci Lee Nannette Hardy, 30 -- who was a passenger in Wentlandt's vehicle -- were pronounced dead at the scene. Wentlandt sustained life-threatening injuries and was taken to Mayo Clinic Health System in Red Wing.

The sheriff's department, Wisconsin State Patrol and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation always meet to evaluate roadways after fatal crashes occur, Hove said. Still, she said, there are a few factors that make the intersection known locally as Wiff Corner particularly treacherous.

Buildings along the roadway mean the line of sight is shortened for drivers in both directions, Hove said.

"The vision is not very long," she said.

In addition, the speed limit is 55 mph, normal highway speeds, Hove said. There is a stop sign for drivers on County Road Y as they approach Highway 63 from the north. But drivers on Highway 63 heading onto Y don't have to stop.

When the three departments meet in September to evaluate the intersection, Hove said they'll pay attention to the safety of the road and try to determine what contributed to the accident.

"We'll look at the road see if the accident is more of a driver error verses a road error," she said.

Hove said that computer issues meant she wasn't able to give exact figures on the number of crashes that have occurred at that intersection in recent years. But she added that there have been a number of crashes at that location.

"We've had a few crashes, but not as many as people might expect," Hove said.

Separate funeral services for Hardy and Kull will be held Thursday. The accident remains under investigation.

The Pierce County Herald contributed to this report.

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