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The Cold Filtered Ramblings of Gene Mueller

An ordinary drive, an unforgetable tragedy: remembering October 11, 2002

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So plain.

So indistinguishable.

Interstate 43 is unremarkable in so many ways, yet so vital.  Growing up in Sheboygan, I remember the battle to get it built amid protests from area farmers who questioned the need for the four-lane ribbon of asphalt.   Before I-43, your option was Highway 141, an overburdened two-lane route that turned most rides into a slog.

43 changed things.  For us in Sheboygan, it made Milwaukee and points beyond that much closer or, at the very least, a heckuva lot easier to get to.   A Brewers game was no longer an arduous journey.  A shopping trip to Capitol Court, Bayshore or Northridge was an option, much to the annoyance of local businesspeople who didn't have to worry about Milwaukee competition in the past.

And, the interstate was safer.  That was the whole idea behind I-43, and for the most part it was. 

No road, two lane or four, interstate or not, could be designed to prevent what happened ten years ago this morning on October 11, 2002.

Dense, thick, unrelenting fog enveloped the stretch near the Sheboygan/Ozaukee County line that morning.   Strangers driving side-by-each around 7:30 a.m. would find themselves forever linked by random horror and tragedy.

If they survived, that is.

Ten people would die in a wreck that consumed some 50 vehicles.   39 others would be hurt including some who, despite their injuries would help others and become heroes.  Read about the crash, remember the victims and learn more about those who survived here in the Sheboygan Press's Thursday morning coverage.

 

A marker stands near the site.

 

I wasn't there.  Chances are you weren't either.  I'll bet you've driven over the spot, though.  I did the other day, as I drove up to Sheboygan to have lunch with a former co-worker.   I didn't remember the wreck on the way up but the thought did cross my mind as I headed home that clear October afternoon.   It's easy to imagine what that part of I-43 is like bathed in a cloak of grey.   It happens frequently but, for whatever reasons, never did it prove to be as deadly as it was October 11, 2002.  

May it never happen again.

 

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