WISCONSIN NEWS ROUNDUP: Rescuers resume search to find missing La Crosse man from Mississippi River
Rescuers will try for a fifth day to find the body of a La Crosse man missing after an S-U-V plunged into the Mississippi River in Winona, Minnesota. 29-year-old Andrew Kingsbury of La Crosse is the last of four bodies to be recovered. Two people were in the S-U-V when it was pulled from the river on Sunday. The third body was recovered Monday. Those three were all from Minnesota. The driver, 36-year-old Christina Hauser, had left a downtown Winona tavern early Sunday with the three friends. Authorities said the vehicle failed to make a turn when it slammed into a guard rail and plunged into the Mississippi. Yesterday, a rescue team from the Wazee Sports Center in Black River Falls was among those brought in to help find Kingsbury -- who is presumed drowned. Teams used sonar equipment, robots, and underwater cameras along the shore where the mishap occurred -- but there's been no trace of Kingsbury. Winona County Sheriff Dave Brand says he wants to bring in cadaver dogs for today's search.
A candidate for Wisconsin's top law enforcement office says he deeply regrets a "terrible error of judgment" when he was ticketed for drunk driving in 1990. A campaign consultant confirmed Brad Schimel's O-W-I citation, after Schimel said on Tuesday he was skeptical about making first-time drunk driving a crime. The 48-year-old Schimel is the Waukesha County district attorney. He's the only Republican candidate to replace J-B Van Hollen, who will leave office after this year. Schimel said he pleaded guilty to his O-W-I citation, and he works each day to help others learn from his experience. As D-A, Schimel said he has helped create "innovative and successful programs" to reduce the numbers of O-W-I offenders. Wisconsin is the only state in which first-time drunk driving is not a criminal offense. One of Schimel's Democratic election opponents, Milwaukee Assembly Democrat Jon Richards, said Schimel should have been more forthcoming about his O-W-I conviction. Richards noted that if Schimel gets caught today, he still wouldn't be charged with a crime because a second O-W-I ticket would come more than 10 years after his first. The Assembly voted last year to make all two-time offenses criminal misdemeanors. The Senate does not plan to take it up this spring, thus killing the measure for the current session. Richards voted for the tighter penalty. Schimel's campaign said he supports it as well.
It's supposed to get a lot warmer in Wisconsin today, even though it's the coldest morning of the week in some places. It was 31-below at seven o'clock in both Tomahawk and Land O'Lakes in far north central Wisconsin. The far southern part of the state was still as cold as 20-below. But the bitter cold spell was finally breaking in far northwest Wisconsin, where Osceola had a temperature of zero at seven a-m. That was the state's warm spot, believe it or not. The National Weather Service says southerly winds are finally about to blow some warmer air into the Badger State, and more clouds will keep the new-found warmth locked up for us. Highs are supposed to leap into the teens and 20's and drop very little tonight. There's a slight chance of freezing drizzle in southern Wisconsin today, and in the west tonight. A wintry mix of snow, sleet, and freezing rain is due in tomorrow and early Saturday. Forecasters say parts of the state could get a few inches of snow, along with some minor icing. Meanwhile, the mercury will keep heading toward the 30's -- and will stay there through early next week.
Just because you have a concealed weapons' permit does not mean you can use it to kill an unarmed person -- even if you feel threatened. That's what a jury in Milwaukee ruled yesterday, when it convicted 40-year-old Philip Green. The Milwaukee man is scheduled to be sentenced February 27th, after he was found guilty of first-degree reckless homicide while armed. Authorities said Green shot 26-year-old Ernest Banks once in the face during a fight in Milwaukee last May 25th. Green testified that he was afraid for his life after being assaulted by one of three men he went bar-hopping with. He and his lawyer tried to convince the jury that Green acted in self-defense. A prosecutor said Green had fired back in anger, and was not protecting his life at the time. The Journal Sentinel cited a case last November in which a concealed weapons permit holder shot two unarmed people outside a house party, killing one and injuring another. In that case, the shooter said he felt threatened because a group has chased him after he fired warning shots.
The owner of nine dogs near Wausau may soon face criminal charges, for allegedly leaving the pets outside during this week's bitter cold wave. The Marathon County Humane Society was called in after it was learned that the dogs' water was frozen. The animals were found to be tethered outside at a property in Hamburg, when it was 15-below with a wind chill of minus-40. Shelter director Mary Kirlin says there are minor issues with the pets, caused by their lack of ability to maintain themselves in the extreme cold. A veterinarian's report is pending. Sheriff's officials say they'll recommend animal cruelty charges, but they still need to gather evidence before asking the district attorney's office to pursue the case in court.
At least two people were killed in separate fires in southern Wisconsin yesterday. One person died and two others were hospitalized last night in a fire at a senior housing complex in Waunakee, north of Madison in Dane County. 78-year-old Madeline Christensen died yesterday morning, after she was pulled from her burning house in Racine. The causes of both fires remain under investigation by state-and-local authorities. Waunakee Fire Chief Gary Acker said two-of-the-16 units of the senior housing complex had damage. The survivors' injuries were not said to be life-threatening. Officials said the fire apparently started in a kitchen area. In the Racine blaze, smoke was billowing from the windows when fire-fighters arrived. Christensen, the only resident of the house, was taken to a hospital where she died. An autopsy is pending. Media reports said Christensen relied on oxygen to help with her normal breathing. Her dog also died in the blaze