A Ford Escape, traveling west on CTH I, crested a hill near 22-3/4 Street and collided with the rear of a turning flatbed semi, killing the front-seat passenger and injuring the driver and another passenger in the rear seat of the Ford Escape.

The crash happened at 12:52 p.m. on Monday, Jan. 13, on CTH I, about two miles south of Chetek. The Wisconsin State Patrol said the deceased victim was Robert J. Warnecke, 46, of Dallas.

The driver, Edward J. Wakefield, 53, of Dallas, was airlifted to Mayo hospital in Eau Claire with nonlife-threatening injuries and later released.

Ashley L. Halpin, 33, of Chippewa Falls, was a passenger in the back seat. She was transported to Barron hospital with nonlife-threatening injuries and released the same day.

Wakefield was wearing a seat belt. Halpin was not. It was not clear if Warnecke had a seat belt on, according to the records released.

The state patrol said a flatbed semi was traveling east on CTH I and was turning left to head north on 22-3/4 Street when the westbound Ford Escape struck the rear end of the semi. The Escape, which was also pulling a trailer, came to rest in the middle of the road with the trailer in the ditch.

Chetek Fire Department and first responders, Chetek Ambulance Service, Chetek police, Barron County sheriff’s deputies, Mayo Ambulance, Barron County Medical Examiner’s Office and state troopers responded. The Barron County Highway Department closed the road and a Life Link III helicopter landed on the road near the crash scene.

Chetek firefighters used the Jaws of Life to extract one of the occupants from the vehicle.

The driver of the semi, Shawn C. Robbins, 42, of Rice Lake, was not injured. He was wearing a seat belt at the time.

A consensual blood draw from Wakefield was taken to rule out impairment, the state patrol said. Any traffic enforcement actions against Robbins, Wakefield or Halpin were pending the completion of the investigation by the state patrol.

Rausch-Lundeen Funeral Home was called to the scene and the Ford was removed by BlackJack Towing, dispatch logs said.

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