Vernon County Sheriff reports Onalaska man killed in Highway 56 traffic crash over the weekend

VIOLA, Wis. – Vernon County Sheriff Roy Torgerson reports a traffic fatality occurred Sunday night, December 3, in rural Viola, WI, in the town of Liberty.

Sheriff Torgerson reports that at approximately 10:30 p.m., while on patrol, a deputy sheriff observed a heavy-duty pickup truck had traveled a considerable distance off the south side of State Highway 56, just west of Sportsman Road. Upon further investigation, the deputy determined the vehicle had been traveling east on State Highway 56 and went off the right side of the roadway, in a slight curve to the left. The vehicle struck several small trees, became airborne and came to rest, upright, after striking a large tree. The vehicle sustained severe damage and the operator was trapped inside the wreckage, and there were no signs of life.

Sheriff Torgerson stated that following a challenging extrication by the dedicated men and women of the Viola Fire Department and volunteers of the Kickapoo Valley Rescue Squad the operator was identified as Paul William Craig, 43, of Onalaska, WI, formerly of La
Crosse, WI. Craig was pronounced dead at the scene by Vernon County Coroner Betty Nigh.

Torgerson said based on further investigation, the time of the crash is estimated to have occurred at approximately 10:00 p.m., or shortly thereafter.

Firefighters combed the area to rule out any additional occupants with aerial support
from the drone team with the La Farge Fire Department. Sheriff Torgerson would also
like to recognize the deputy sheriff involved with the case for her vigilance.

The incident remains under investigation by the Vernon County Sheriff’s Office and the
Vernon County Coroner’s Office.

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