HUDSON, Wis. - The Wisconsin State Patrol says distracted driving triggered the crash that claimed the lives of three teenagers from New Richmond.
Investigators say the four friends were returning home to New Richmond from Woodbury, Minnesota the afternoon of July 30 when witnesses say they began trying to get the attention of a driver who had passed them on I-94.
In an attempt to find paper to write on, passenger Jordan Johnson unfastened his seatbelt while the driver of the Dodge Durango, 17-year-old Zachary Zajec, searched in the center console. The patrol report concludes these distracted actions resulted in the Durango rear ending a semitrailer that had stopped in a construction zone near Hudson at highway
The patrol's findings were reached after talking to witnesses including 17-year-old Thomas Wanless, the lone survivor of the incident.
Zachary Zajec died on Aug. 6 from injuries he received in the crash. Passengers Joshua Goodrich, age 17, and Jordan Johnson, age 16, were dead at the scene.
State Patrol Commander Jeffrey Frenette calls the crash a tragic chain of events that resulted in the untimely deaths of three young teenagers.
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