Woman whose husband was hit and killed calls for legislation - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Woman whose husband was hit and killed calls for legislation


Wisconsin (WQOW) - There's a risk that comes anytime we walk, run, or ride along a street. But even with the risk, we have rights.  A new state bill would enhance the penalty for anyone who injures or kills someone along a public road.

Friday WQOW News 18 spoke with a local woman who's making it her mission to raise awareness about distracted driving. 

It's been a little over two years since Laurie Landgraf lost her husband, Dave, in a crash she says was completely preventable. 

"His primary engine was his heart and anything that would keep that moving and going, he participated in," says Laurie.  

She remembers every detail of August 5th, 2011, down to the plans she made to pick up her husband along his bike route on Highway 27, near Hayward.

Laurie says, "The closer I got, I saw all these emergency vehicles and sheriff's department were rerouting us. So I kept driving and then I started getting worried because I didn't see him alongside the road."

That's when she got the call Dave had been hit.

"I turned around and I came upon the scene and he wasn't there but I saw the remnants of his bike and I saw the vehicle that struck him. I knew right then it was really bad," recalls Laurie.  

62-year-old Dave, a husband, father, coach, and athlete died after being airlifted to a hospital in Duluth. 

Laurie says, "I had hoped he would rally like he had through so many different things, but it just wasn't to be."  

The woman who hit Dave never faced any criminal charges, but was ticketed for inattentive driving and failing to yield to a bicyclist.

Laurie says, "I wanted to see some consequences and I was hoping the courts would give me that."

That's why Laurie stands behind the Vulnerable Users Bill. If approved, it would mean stricter penalties for anyone who injures or kills someone along a public roadway.

"I think I'm finding my voice and my reason for...Making a difference is what gets me through this," says Laurie.  

Here's an example of how the law would change based on this new legislation. In a similar case, under the bill, the driver could face a misdemeanor and have their license suspended for a year. 

Authors of the bill say the reason more of these cases don't make it to court is because they are difficult to prove beyond a reasonable doubt.

They hope this bill at least raises awareness so fewer people are distracted behind the wheel. 

The assembly will have a public hearing on the bill Tuesday. The earliest a vote could happen is January.  According to the Bicycle Federation of Wisconsin there are 27 other states with similar legislation. 

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