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Traynor turns in the keys after 32 years

Over a recent week, Wisconsin State Trooper Bill Traynor conducted what he termed with a grin--his "goodbye tour," stopping at area police departments and a few businesses to say thank you for their support and bid farewell.

"I feel good," said Traynor, 53. "I could continue to do this job, but I'm not going to push the envelope. It's kind of like a party--you know when it's time to leave."

Despite given the discretion by district leadership to work whatever shifts he liked during his final days, Traynor kept busy with speeding stops and helping other agencies.

Just after noon on May 21, while heading back from the district office, Traynor overheard Pierce County deputies gearing up an intensive search for a missing three-year-old boy and his black lab south of Elmwood.

Traynor hailed the chief deputy and immediately offered his help, then radioed the Eau Claire post and requested the patrol's airplane be sent to the scene. It was en route a sheriff's deputy found the child unharmed a few minutes later.

Lt. Jeff Lorentz, second in command for the Eau Claire District, referred to Traynor as "a legend" and his own mentor when he started 27 years ago. Lorentz cited Traynor's professionalism and experience as a seasoned investigator and accident reconstructionist as having been great assets for the department. And even though Traynor was technically assigned to Pierce County, he regularly shifted north to assist in patrolling I-94.

Traynor hasn't kept records, but suspects he's investigated more than 100 fatal accidents during his career. Some were weather-related. Others linked to alcohol use, but many were the result of people simply not paying attention. Traynor only expects distracted driving to become a bigger problem with the increasing number of gadgets people have in their vehicles.

The worst crash he ever dealt with was likely a motor coach that collided with a parked semi near Osseo several years ago. The nighttime accident killed five Chippewa Falls High School students and injured at least 12 others as they returned from a marching band event.

Traynor and another investigator worked the case for six weeks, reconstructing the accident, interviewing witnesses and ultimately assembling the facts that helped convict the truck driver, who'd parked his truck along the interstate to relieve himself.

For more please read the June 12 print version of the Herald.