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Beaver Dam man sentenced in homicide from 2019 wrong-way crash

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Published: Sep. 15, 2021 at 3:56 PM CDT
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JUNEAU, Wis. (WMTV) - A Beaver Dam man was sentenced to over two decades in prison Wednesday after being convicted of homicide stemming from a 2019 wrong-way crash that involved two other vehicles.

A Dodge Co. court found Dustin Vandergailen, 36, guilty in June after he pleaded no contest to homicide by vehicle related to the use of a controlled substance, as well as causing great bodily harm while having a controlled substance in his blood stream, and operating with a detectable amount of a controlled substance in blood while and causing an injury.

“The defendant did not just engage in a failed passing maneuver,” said Dodge County District Attorney Kurt Klomberg. “He had the sun to his rear, no obstructions in his view and the visibility on this flat, straight stretch of highway is among the best in the county. He had to see the vehicles coming, yet remained in their lane for nearly the lengths of two football fields, possibly more.”

The Dodge County District Attorney’s Office states that the 36-year-old was driving eastbound on July 30, 2019 in the westbound lane of County Road E as he passed another vehicle in oncoming traffic. Vandergailen struck that vehicle, though the driver was able to turn in a way that limited the impact.

The driver of that vehicle was injured, as well as her two passengers. Wisconsin State Patrol investigated this incident and found that he was driving for an extended period at 77 mph and made no effort to avoid the oncoming vehicles.

Vandergailen struck a second vehicle after hitting the first one, killing the front passenger and severely injuring the driver and other passengers.

Overall, six people were injured and one person was killed as a result of the crash.

“The defendant’s behavior was reckless and showed utter disregard for human life,” Klomberg continued.

Vandergailen’s blood results showed evidence of cocaine use and that he had been drinking before the crash, officials added. He had two prior convictions for operating while intoxicated, prior to this fatal crash.

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