NEW INFORMATION: Chippewa Falls victim identified, may have jumped or fallen from train

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CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) - A man found dead on railroad tracks in Chippewa Falls has now been identified.

Chippewa Falls Police said the victim is 41-year-old Donald L. Dreke of Chippewa Falls.
Officers don't know why Dreke was near the tracks early Sunday morning.

Chad Christensen said he was concerned when he got to his shop, Christensen glass, Sunday morning. His business is just a few yards from the train tracks on Main Street.

“When I got here, they had the train tracks all blocked off and they had officers walking up and down the track and right away I kind of knew there was something not so great going on. It wasn't anything to do with my shop but, it was kind of one of those things you don't want to get that close to. Because, the train tracks, the cleanup team, probably not a good scenario,” Christensen said.

“I went up to the barricade and just kind of looked to see if there was a big accident or something like that, and just by not seeing any large vehicles destroyed or anything, I figured it was probably a person. I just didn't want to be by that. Not the kind of thing you want to see,” he said.

Police said a county sheriff's employee was going across the tracks Sunday morning. There, he saw clothing, and police soon closed streets in the area. Police later learned a train was blocking the intersection from about 2:30 a.m. to 5:30 a.m., for a mechanical issue.

Officers said they found 41-year-old Donald L. Dreke's remains, along with an I.D. Card, and identified him after talking to family and looking at fingerprints.

Police said Dreke lived nearby the tracks. They said he may have boarded one of the railroad cars while the train was stopped and he could have fallen or jumped off.

“There's families involved and all that. It's just not a good thing for anybody to have to go through and for a family member to be a spectacle of the public, is such a sad thought,” Christensen said.

Police said they believe Dreke was alone and don't suspect foul play. They said they're unsure whether alcohol was a factor but that toxicology tests could still be done.

Late Monday, a train was parked at the location, blocking roads Monday, but a Union Pacific spokesman said it was because of a locomotive problem and not related to the investigation.


On February 23, 2014 at 0710 hours, a Chippewa County Sheriff’s employee was traveling across the railroad tracks on Main Street near Park Avenue. He spotted some clothing items that caused him to look further. He soon realized that someone may have been fatally injured by a moving train. Chippewa Falls Police quickly secured the railroad tracks with barricades and closed all streets in the area.

An investigation revealed that a Union Pacific Train that was traveling west-bound, was stopped blocking the Main Street intersection at approximately 0230 hours for approximately 3 hours. Train personnel were inspecting a mechanical issue as well as a weight verses power available concern as they approached a slight incline in the terrain. The train then began moving again at 0530 until it stopped for the final time for routine maintenance west of the CF City limits, near the USH 53 interchange.

Evidence located on the tracks led CFPD Investigators to inspect the train for any evidence of the incident, at which time the victim was located. Other officers collected items found along the tracks that were believed to belong to the victim. From a Wisconsin identification card that was with the victim’s body and by talking with family members of the victim, investigators believed that the victim was Mr. Donald Dreke. Today, (February 24, 2014) investigators confirmed the victim’s identity as Mr. Dreke by fingerprint comparisons.

Preliminary information indicates that Mr. Dreke may have boarded one of the railroad cars when it was stopped or prior to moving at 0530. Mr. Dreke may have fallen or tried to jump off the train when the tragedy occurred. Information learned that it was common for Mr. Dreke to walk from that area to his home which was just a few blocks away.

At this point there is no evidence of foul play or any information that leads investigators to believe that this was not an accident. Officials from the Union Pacific Railroad are cooperating with the investigation.

Agencies that assisted CFPD during this investigation was Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office, Department of Natural Resources, Chippewa County Coroner’s Office, Chippewa Falls Fire Department, Chippewa Falls Street Department, and Union Pacific Railroad.
Previous story:

CHIPPEWA FALLS, Wis. (WEAU) -- Officers say they have not confirmed the identity of the person whose body parts were found on railroad tracks.

Chippewa Falls Police Chief Wendy Stelter made the announcement in an email Monday morning. She says investigators are looking into multiple "ways to make the confirmation." She says she hopes to confirm the name by Monday afternoon.

The department says it took a report of something on the tracks near the intersection of Main Street and Park Avenue Sunday morning. When officers got there, they found personal items, clothing, and body parts belonging to a man. Union Pacific says the train was headed from Altoona to Mason City, Iowa. Union pacific and the Chippewa Falls Police Department told WEAU 13 News that the train did stall out earlier in the night in the City of Chippewa Falls and train crews did report sighting vandals near the train to police.