Crash report: Sen. Kathleen Vinehout wasn't wearing seat belt

2014-01-08T07:55:00Z Crash report: Sen. Kathleen Vinehout wasn't wearing seat beltMATTHEW DeFOUR | Wisconsin State Journal | | 608-252-6144

State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout wasn’t wearing a seatbelt during last month’s crash that sidelined her exploration of a gubernatorial run, according to a report released by the State Patrol.

At the time, Vinehout was exploring a possible run for the Democratic nomination for governor. Madison School Board member Mary Burke, a former state Commerce secretary and Trek Bicycle executive, has already announced plans to run as a Democrat against Republican Gov. Scott Walker.

Vinehout, D-Alma, underwent an eight-hour reconstructive surgery on her broken arm. She continues to recover at home and has started physical therapy, but she won’t be able to attend next week’s scheduled Senate floor session, husband Douglas Kane said Tuesday.

An announcement on her political plans is not imminent, Kane said.

Vinehout was traveling in the backseat of her 2008 Toyota Avalon on Dec. 8 during a heavy snowfall. Several crashes were reported across southern Wisconsin that day, including one fatal pile-up about two miles south of where Vinehout’s crash occurred on Interstate 94 in Racine County.

Vinehout’s vehicle was heading east just before 10 a.m. when the driver swerved to avoid hitting cars that had stopped ahead. The report doesn’t say why the other cars were stopped or whether it was related to any other nearby crashes. Vinehout’s vehicle veered into a roadside ditch before going through a state-owned fence.

The driver of a second vehicle that had also swerved into the ditch and was stopped said Vinehout’s vehicle struck his from behind before hitting the fence, though Vinehout’s driver told police she did not recall hitting another vehicle.

Vinehout’s driver, campaign volunteer Deborah Ross, and front-seat passenger, Elisabeth Donoghue, whom Vinehout had hired to work on her campaign a week earlier, were both wearing seatbelts.

Kane said Tuesday that Vinehout, who has been taking pain medication and is unavailable for interviews, was not wearing a seatbelt because she was in the backseat doing paperwork.

State law requires all adults traveling in a vehicle to wear a seat belt or face a $10 fine. Kane said Vinehout did not receive a ticket.

State Patrol Lt. James Kicmol said seat belt tickets aren’t always issued in crashes but didn’t have information Tuesday as to why the investigating trooper decided not to issue a ticket in this case.

Vinehout was the only person in the crash taken by ambulance to the hospital, according to the report. The driver was not injured, the front-seat passenger had a “possible injury” and Vinehout sustained a “non-incapacitating injury.”

Both vehicles were towed. The report listed the damage to the second vehicle as “moderate” and the damage to Vinehout’s vehicle as “very severe.”

The officer investigating the crash was not on the scene and communicated with the involved parties by phone and email afterward.

Vinehout had been planning to attend two campaign-related events in Racine and Kenosha that day, but they were canceled after the crash.

Copyright 2015 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(39) Comments

  1. koala
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    koala - January 08, 2014 7:07 pm
    I whole-heartedly agree. ENABLE THE COMMENTS on the concealed-carry suit against Madison Metro!
  2. submission ruins27tFR
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    submission ruins27tFR - January 08, 2014 4:48 pm
    Hmmmmmmm, for example Clinton got a blow-job in the Oval Office and HE was the President of the United States. I'm just saying hypocrisy abounds!!
  3. number6
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    number6 - January 08, 2014 2:47 pm
    'She pays in for her health insurance,' -- we ALL pay in to cover irresponsible injuries.
  4. array1
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    array1 - January 08, 2014 1:38 pm
    I wonder why comments are disabled on the article about concealed carriers wanting to get their weapons onto Madisons buses? With all the recent cc intentional and accidental gunfire in Wisconsin public spaces I think a spirited discussion.
  5. OscarD
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    OscarD - January 08, 2014 11:59 am
    A friend of mine that owned a driver's education company , had in his curriculum a question,
    "If there was one cure for the major cause of death for teenagers in this country, would you be willing to pay for it?" His answer was, "there is, USE YOUR SEAT BELT. "While Kathleen is no teenager, the axiom still applies, and perhaps more so. I do not understand people that do not buckle up. Period.
  6. kriley
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    kriley - January 08, 2014 11:44 am
    I will have you know that I and my wife are both proud union members. I believe that we need to support ALL unions in this country, not just the ones we belong to. It was infuriating to me when protesting at the capital, nearly ALL the cars in the parking ramps with blue fist bumper stickers were scab built. Your apparent ignorance about unions in this country is unforgiveable. Don't forget while you all are in an uproar over minor losses in benefits the autoworkers lost everything.
  7. morninmist
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    morninmist - January 08, 2014 10:39 am
    I do wish it were union made.
  8. mkallen
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    mkallen - January 08, 2014 10:05 am
    I was very surprised to learn that a major union spokesman and supporter like Vinehout,owns a Toyota. According to the UAW, the only unionized foreign automobile plant in the US is the Mitsubishi plant in Normal, IL. A joint Chrysler venture. Based on my quick research, there are no unionized Toyota plants worldwide. In my experience it seems that Republicans, for the most part, own UAW american vehicles.

    Private unions are hurt nationwide by liberal's refusal to buy american.

    Liberals b
  9. PapaLorax
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    PapaLorax - January 08, 2014 10:00 am
    made in the non union labor.
  10. PapaLorax
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    PapaLorax - January 08, 2014 9:59 am
    the dems tend to be more nanny state (I certainly don't give them exclusive right to the throne) when they turn around and make a choice that was made illegal by the is note worthy, no?

    If you saw Bloomburg drinking a big gulp while smoking...would it not be noteworthy?
  11. Norwood44
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    Norwood44 - January 08, 2014 9:53 am
    Stay classy Buckyz. Stay classy.
  12. submission ruins27tFR
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    submission ruins27tFR - January 08, 2014 9:49 am
    Thankfully Ms. Vinehout is ok. There are bigger questions and issues here. When do we as a society "police" and when don't we? We enable and subsequently DISABLE parents from their responsibility as parents, we pour money into public education to close the minority/subsequent educational economically perceived gap. We fund organ transplants for alcohol abusers. We allow free speech that stomps on the rights of others and the greater good. Yet we will get outraged over someone choosing to not buckle up! They CHOSE their level of safety, ,just as the single mom, sperm spreading man, drinker, uneducated, unemployed "Joe-Blow" has. More of us reading articles similar to this see the hypocrisy in these comparisons. The media should to......this IS NOT a story!!!! It is simply another display of someone making a choice. Where we as a society place priorities should be the bigger philosophical question!!!
  13. davea
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    davea - January 08, 2014 8:41 am
    Does the lack of "class" surprise anyone?
  14. Wildcat90
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    Wildcat90 - January 08, 2014 8:10 am
    First, I am no fan of Senator Vinehout (only read it because she's my district's Senator and I'd prefer it if someone else was), but some of the comments here are just wrong. A Mary Burke conspiracy? Seriously? It was crappy weather. The driver was likely going too fast for conditions and/or not paying attention to traffic ahead. Ripping on her for a Toyota? Come on! The only criticism here is that she wasn't wearing a seatbelt and whether or not she should've gotten a ticket. Realistically, the injury and recovery on her arm will likely be much more reinforcing to wear her seatbelt in the future than a $10 bill out of her pocket (which is what a citation is supposed to do)
  15. Lynne4300
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    Lynne4300 - January 08, 2014 8:07 am
    The photo shows her wearing her "Fab 14" pin, cute.
  16. morninmist
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    morninmist - January 08, 2014 8:06 am
    I am so glad Kathleen was not injured more and that the others were not hurt. I wish her a speedy recovery.

    Also: kriley--in an earlier post--- is so eager to diss unions that he spouts of his vile mouth without knowing what he is talking about!
    "The Toyota Avalon is a full-size car produced by Toyota in the United States,...."
  17. morninmist
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    morninmist - January 08, 2014 8:04 am
    kriley is so eager to diss unions that he spouts of his vile mouth without knowing what he is talking about!
    "The Toyota Avalon is a full-size car produced by Toyota in the United States,...."
  18. PapaLorax
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    PapaLorax - January 08, 2014 8:03 am
    she traded in her prius for the political points.
  19. justice for all
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    justice for all - January 08, 2014 7:43 am
    She drives a Ford Escape
  20. Waroroses
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    Waroroses - January 08, 2014 4:42 am
    There is no work in the back seat which takes priority over being strapped in properly. Dumb is not a good quality in a leader.
  21. witness2012
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    witness2012 - January 08, 2014 12:53 am
    yes, it is her car. I stand corrected.
  22. witness2012
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    witness2012 - January 08, 2014 12:52 am
    I do see that, wrkbee. I stand corrected.
  23. NotACynic
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    NotACynic - January 08, 2014 12:06 am
    It does say it was her car. Read it again.
  24. wrkrbee1
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    wrkrbee1 - January 08, 2014 12:00 am
    witness, read again... it was her car.. "vinhout was traveling in the backseat of her 2008 Toyota...".

    step #1, read.... then comment
  25. sunny days
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    sunny days - January 07, 2014 11:57 pm
    I truley feel for the people that write and only have "ugly" comments about the article that they are writing about. They must have a miserable life and find no joy anywhere. It's been ...kind of ...proved by the names that continually post. I'm sad for them and hope they will be able to find joy by just living life, instead of finding their joy by being miserable all of the time. There are people that that is their only way to feel joy. How sad to live in that body! :(
  26. witness2012
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    witness2012 - January 07, 2014 11:17 pm
    The article never says it was vinehout's car. It was driven by a campaign volunteer and Vinehout was a passenger.
  27. witness2012
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    witness2012 - January 07, 2014 11:16 pm
    There were dozens of accidents that day. The roads were terrible. She might have broken her arm even with the seat belt on. I suspect she was pushing a schedule, trying to multi-task and was thinking about her next campaign stop more than her safety. It happens.

    I think it is up to the state patrol officer's discretion and I expect that they were incredibly busy at the accident scene sorting out the multi-car pile-up and so, no, they didn't take the time to write up a ticket for a person headed to an ambulance..

    She pays in for her health insurance, was insured, and frankly, that is what it is for- when she needs it. And, she needed it.
  28. koala
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    koala - January 07, 2014 10:50 pm
    You must be joking. I'm a progressive Dem and would NEVER have voted for W, for many different reasons. We should be able to reach decisions re the responsibility or intelligence of any candidate's actions without any ideological gloss. I'm not prepared to give Vinehout a pass on what was stupid behavior just because she happens to agree with me on many political issues. That would be the kind of crap that marks blind partisanship and makes it indefensible.
  29. kriley
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    kriley - January 07, 2014 10:48 pm
    There's your pro union future governor, having an accident in a scab built TOYOTA. How can we trust her to fight for our unions when she is a traitor to our UAW brothers? Maybe Burke drives a Chevy.
  30. RichardSRussell
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    RichardSRussell - January 07, 2014 9:17 pm
    Lordy, for a smart woman, this was sure a dumb move.

    But, speaking of dumb, there are commenters here wondering why the officer on the scene didn't write up a $10 ticket for a woman who was probably writhing in pain because her arm had been shattered in 8 places, as if she needed some kind of seat-belt lesson. Yay for the officer, boo to you idiots.
  31. DopplerDoug
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    DopplerDoug - January 07, 2014 8:43 pm
    ...and yet you still probably voted for George W Bush after it was revealed that he got a DUI.
  32. madcitydude
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    madcitydude - January 07, 2014 8:41 pm
    Why would she NOT get a ticket. It's the law and she wasn't following the law. Doing paperwork is not an excuse and now our health insurance has to pay thousands because of her stupidity. This is what's wrong with health insurance no personal accountability.
  33. John_Galt
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    John_Galt - January 07, 2014 8:02 pm
    She did stop! Very abruptly!

    Oh, you mean Buckyz...... lol

    Speedy recovery, senator Vinehout.
  34. witness2012
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    witness2012 - January 07, 2014 7:43 pm
    Just stop. Really. Stop.
  35. witness2012
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    witness2012 - January 07, 2014 7:42 pm
    Agreed. I doubt she will make that mistake again.

    Speedy recovery, senator Vinehout.
  36. koala
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    koala - January 07, 2014 7:05 pm
    Not obeying this particular law shows poor judgement.
  37. Buckyz
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    Buckyz - January 07, 2014 6:41 pm
    Have to wonder if Mary Burke had anything to do with the accident? You know....ala Tonya Harding and Nancy Kerrigan? Mary has shown to have very few morals, so it is something to ponder.
  38. Norwood44
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    Norwood44 - January 07, 2014 6:21 pm
    Let's hope Ms. Vinehout is healing. The seat belt details are unfortunate but certainly not grounds for sniping. Eight hour surgery to put her arm back together sounds brutal. Here's to her full recovery.
  39. justice for all
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    justice for all - January 07, 2014 6:20 pm
    Kathleen did you learn something from this crash. Seat belts help!

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