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EXCLUSIVE: Police officer speaks out after head-on crash

By: Aaron Dimick Email
By: Aaron Dimick Email

AUGUSTA, Wis. (WEAU) -- Shocking pictures and dash cam video show the head-on crash that injured a local police officer.

In a WEAU 13 News exclusive, we talked to the Augusta Police officer one-on-one about his near-brush with death.

It all started Saturday afternoon on Highway 29 north of Augusta with a traffic stop.

After speaking with the woman and checking the road, Officer Dane Wisniewski returned to his patrol vehicle to run her information.

What seemed like a normal traffic stop soon took a dangerous turn.

Just seconds after getting back into the vehicle, a vehicle crossed into oncoming traffic and slammed head first into the parked patrol SUV.

“From that point on it was just fractions of seconds, ‘Oh no what do I do?” Officer Wisniewski said.

Although he was injured, the officer kept his cool and jumped into action.

“I was moving, I was alive; and the first thing that popped in my brain was ‘I hope that guy is okay’,” Officer Wisniewski said.

He even made sure the road was clear to prevent other accidents.

Police say the driver that hit him head-on is 71-year-old Darrell Hess of Michigan City, Indiana.

Hess was not hurt.

Audio from the dash cam recording indicates Hess didn’t know what caused the crash.

Investigators believe fatigue could have caused him to drive into the other lane.

Officer Wisniewski said he hopes officers and drivers can learn from the dash cam video.

“Because it shows every person out there that it doesn’t matter who you are or what you’re doing, there’s always that liability that something like this would happen,” Officer Wisniewski said.

He is now dealing with bruised ribs along with back and neck injuries.

“I don't know where I'd be today if I was in a little car or a smaller vehicle. That SUV took a big hit,” Officer Wisniewski said.

And while there are some "what ifs”, the officer said he's just glad he's still with us and is looking forward to the future.

“I’m still being able to come back in a few weeks. And I'm going to be able to do my job that I love doing,” Officer Wisniewski said.

The Augusta Police Chief said Wisniewski acted appropriately and he's proud of his actions.

We reached out to Darrell Hess.

Hess told us over the phone that he didn't know what caused the crash but didn't want to comment further.

The Eau Claire County Sheriff's Department is still investigating.
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AUGUSTA, Wis. (WEAU) -- The dashcam video from Officer Dane Wisniewski's patrol vehicle tells the tale of his near-brush with death.

The Augusta Police officer says it all started Saturday afternoon when he pulled over a woman outside the city limits on Highway 27.

After making contact with the woman he went back to his vehicle to run her information.

Just seconds after getting back into his patrol SUV, he was hit head-on by an oncoming vehicle.

Although he was injured, Officer Wisniewski kept his cool, made sure the driver was ok, and cleared traffic to prevent other crashes.

Police say the driver that hit him head-on is 71-year-old Darrell Hess of Michigan City, Indiana.

He was not hurt.

Investigators believe fatigue could have caused Hess to drive into the other lane.

Wisniewski was taken to the hospital and is now dealing with bruised ribs along with back and neck injuries.

“There's always the ‘what if’, but the way I look at it is I’m here today, I’ll be able to come back in a few weeks. And I’m going to be able to do my job that I love doing,” Wisniewski said.

The Augusta police chief said Wisniewski did everything appropriately and he's proud of his actions.

WEAU talked to Hess over the phone Thursday afternoon.

Hess said he didn't know what caused the crash and didn't want to comment further.

More of our interview with Officer Wisniewski will be posted later Thursday night.


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