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Cause of fatal accidents sought

The investigation into recent accidents in which four people lost their lives has revealed few surprises so far.

The use of seat belts was a factor, especially in the Brian O'Keefe and Mark Anderson accidents.

According to Sgt. Tom Gunderson of the Pierce County Sheriff's Department, who is in charge of investigating both accidents, Anderson wasn't wearing his seat belt when he lost control of his Chevrolet truck on 810th Street in the Town of Trimbelle, around 2:48 a.m., Jan. 20. The truck then overturned, with Anderson still in the vehicle. Anderson's injuries as a result of the accident were fatal and he was pronounced dead at the scene. He was 51.

Gunderson said no alcohol was found in the vehicle and the results of a blood test won't be known for a couple of weeks. He also said there was some snow drifting on the roads, but not enough to affect traffic.

Anderson was heading home, as the accident occurred less than a mile from his residence.

About 30 hours earlier at 9:44 p.m. Jan. 18, Gunderson was called to 290th Street at 790th Avenue in the Town of Gilman, where the driver of a GMC truck driven by Ryan N. Peterson, 29, Roberts, lost control of the vehicle, entered the west ditch and overturned. Peterson and his passenger, Brian O'Keefe, 31, Roberts, were ejected.

O'Keefe was transported to the Baldwin Area Medical Center, where he was pronounced dead. Peterson was airlifted to Regions Hospital in St. Paul, where he was listed in serious condition Monday, an upgrade from critical the week prior. Their blood results also won't be known for a couple of weeks.

Because both men were ejected, Gunderson believes neither used their seat belt. It wasn't snowing at the time of the accident, but 290th Street was slippery in spots, which was a contributing factor.

Another factor, Gunderson added, was how fast Peterson was traveling due to the damage of the pickup (a photo appeared in last week's Herald).

"They're going faster than what they should've been," he said.

And because Peterson was traveling south on 290th Street, and both had a Roberts address, Gunderson said last week, their travel destination remains a mystery.

"I'm at a loss for what they're doing there," he said.

An added note from this accident is the sheriff's department was notified of it via OnStar, which is something that happens occasionally, according to Lt. Dennis Sorenson.

Investigation into another accident, in which Arnold and Alice Tiedke lost their lives, also hasn't brought any real surprises.

Mrs. Tiedke was driving the couple's Chevrolet Monte Carlo on Hwy. 10 in the Town of Union around 12:57 p.m. Jan. 20, when it crossed the centerline sideways, she overcorrected and ended up colliding with a Ford Windstar driven by Trisha Nelson, 28, Plum City.

Mrs. Tiedke and Tiedke, who was a passenger, were pronounced dead at the scene. They were 63 and 64, respectively, and lived in Bay City.

Nelson was airlifted to St. Mary's Hospital in Rochester, Minn., where a representative said Monday she was dismissed. The two passengers in her vehicle, Ashley Blue, age eight, and Aaron Nelson, two, were transported to Fairview Medical Center in Red Wing, where both were treated and released.

Pierce County Sheriff's Deputy Michael Vodinelich said neither Tiedke's speed nor the roads were a factor. All parties involved were wearing seatbelts and Aaron Nelson was in his car seat.

The question mark, he said, is what caused Mrs. Tiedke to go sideways.

Jason Schulte

Jason Schulte is a reporter for the New Richmond News since February 2015. Prior to that he spent eight years at the Pierce County Herald in Ellsworth. His duties with the News will include covering news out of Hammond and Roberts along with action from St. Croix County court system. He lives in Roberts. 

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