Tragedy struck on State Highway 35 near Mohawk Valley Road in rural Stoddard, WI on the fateful afternoon of December 8, 2023. Laurel Elizabeth Wicks, 47, of Cavour, South Dakota, formerly of La Crosse, Wisconsin, passed away in a two-vehicle collision that caused tremors in the close-knit community.
Vernon County Sheriff Roy Torgerson relayed the grim details of the incident that occurred around 2:45 PM. The Sheriff’s Office 9-1-1 Dispatch Center received a distressing call reporting the collision involving a 2005 Honda Pilot driven by Laurel Wicks and a large dump truck operated by 59-year-old Bobby E. Bendel of La Crosse, WI.
The circumstances leading to the accident unfolded as Bendel’s dump truck came to a stop on State Highway 35, signaling a left turn into a private driveway. The intention was to yield to an oncoming southbound vehicle. Unfortunately, the collision occurred when Wicks, traveling northbound on the same highway, struck the rear of the stationary dump truck.
The impact point on Wicks’ vehicle was the left front corner, colliding with the right rear corner of the dump truck. The force of the collision resulted in severe damage to the entire left side of Wicks’ Honda Pilot, trapping her inside. Despite the efforts of emergency responders, there were no signs of life, and Laurel Wicks was pronounced dead at the scene by Vernon County Coroner Betty Nigh.
The closure of a portion of State Highway 35, encompassing the intersection of Mohawk Valley Road, was necessary for about three hours. The aftermath of such incidents extends beyond the immediate scene, affecting the community as a whole. As news of Laurel Wicks’ tragic demise spread, condolences and sorrow reverberated through the close-knit towns of Cavour, South Dakota, and La Crosse, Wisconsin.
Laurel Wicks was not just a statistic in a traffic accident report; she was a person with a life full of experiences, connections, and aspirations. Formerly from La Crosse, she had become a part of the Cavour community, leaving an impact on those who knew her. As the community grieves, memories of Laurel will undoubtedly be shared, and the void left by her absence will be felt by friends, family, and neighbors alike.
Fatal accidents like these underscore the importance of road safety and the need for vigilance on our highways. Whether it’s the responsibility of drivers to stay attentive behind the wheel or the ongoing efforts of law enforcement to enforce traffic regulations, tragedies like the one involving Laurel Wicks serve as poignant reminders of the potential consequences of a momentary lapse in attention.
In small towns like Cavour and La Crosse, where everyone knows everyone, the loss of a community member is deeply felt. Friends and neighbors come together not only to mourn but also to support one another through the grieving process. It is in these difficult times that the strength of community bonds is truly tested and proven.
As investigations into the specifics of the accident continue, questions may arise about the circumstances leading to the crash. The role of factors such as weather conditions, visibility, and adherence to traffic regulations will likely be scrutinized. However, regardless of the outcome of these inquiries, the tragic incident remains a stark reminder of the fragility of life and the need for constant awareness on our roads.
In memory of Laurel Elizabeth Wicks, communities in Cavour, South Dakota, and La Crosse, Wisconsin, join together to mourn the loss of a fellow resident, friend, and family member. The healing process will be gradual, but the impact of her presence in the lives of those who knew her will endure. As condolences pour in and communities come together to support one another, the memory of Laurel Wicks will be cherished, and the hope for safer roads will resonate in the hearts of those left behind.