HUDSON, Wis. (FOX 9) - A grieving mother from western Wisconsin is sounding the alarm, speaking out about the perceived dangers of a state highway that has now seen two fatal crashes this year.
Locals have dubbed State Highway 65 in rural Polk County as "roller coaster road" for its hills, curves, and thrills. It is where her 21-year-old son Brody Shipe was killed on Nov. 30.
"It is the joyride road. That is where they can go have their fun or whatever, and it is not a good road. It is not," Brody’s mother Delaina Bacon told FOX 9’s Paul Blume during an interview at her family’s Hudson, Wisconsin home. "It is just that road has been terrible. That road has always been terrible."
Shipe graduated from Somerset High School with a large group of close friends. His mother described him as kind and helpful with a heart of gold. Shipe was skilled in mechanics and was recently working in the mines in the western United States. He was home for a few days last week when tragedy struck. A heartbroken Bacon was wearing her son’s mining company sweatshirt on Monday as she planned a funeral for her only child.
"He had a big heart. He just had a love for life. Loved to go fast," said Bacon. "I have a lot of young kids that are putting somebody to rest that they never, never should have been putting to rest at this point in their life. I need to get through this for them and I need to be strong for them."
Shipe was driving his 2011 Dodge Ram pick-up southbound along Highway 65 around 10:43 p.m. on November 30 when he lost control and slammed into several trees. The truck was mangled beyond all recognition. Shipe was pronounced dead at the scene after 911 dispatch was alerted to the crash by technology on Shipe’s iPhone.
Bacon admits her son was drawn to the stretch of roadway because of the hills and thrills. She agrees with an early investigative assessment from law enforcement that Shipe was likely traveling at a high rate of speed. But she wants the tragedy to lead to enhanced safety upgrades to protect others.
"Some guardrails or take the hills out, or take the sense of adventure out of that road," said Bacon. "I mean, they know that road. That is where they are going to have their fun or to, you know, listen to their tunes and just, I mean, get their adrenaline rush. It is a road that will give them an adrenaline rush. And that is what a lot of them do out there. And it is sad because there have been a lot of accidents."
Mike Kappers is the Village President of nearby Somerset. Kappers is also calling for continued upgrades along Highway 65 even after the Wisconsin Department of Transportation made several, significant safety improvements over the summer, spending nearly $9 million. The funding included the reconstruction of three "substandard vertical curves" between Star Prairie and Balsam Lake.
Shipe was killed just a mile or so away from a separate fatal crash involving a vehicle full of young thrill-seekers earlier this year. Prosecutors recently charged 20-year-old Isaiah Moody with vehicular homicide for causing the death of his friend Masen Powell. Authorities have said Moody had detectable amounts of marijuana in his system at the time of the crash. Several others survived but were badly injured.
Now, Bacon, Kappers, and others are hoping more can be done to protect the driving public and save lives.
"My message would be if this is going to continue to be a state highway, that they bring it up to some kind of safety specifications on certain grades and certain, you know, guardrails and certain things so we can stop losing so many young lives," concluded Kappers.
Friends and family have launched a GoFundMe page to help with funeral expenses.