"At that time she was alive and I was talking to her" Witnesses watch horrific accident unfold at Sherman & Burleigh
MILWAUKEE (WITI) — Milwaukee police say two people were killed in a wreck involving four vehicles that shut down the intersection at Sherman and Burleigh on Thursday, July 10th. Police have identified the two victims as 52-year-old Christine Jaeger and 45-year-old Lisa Cope -- both victims are from Greenfield.
The driver of the striking vehicle remains hospitalized.
A FOX6 photojournalist saw it all unfold, because he was directly behind the car that was struck.
"This is absolutely the worst accident I have ever seen in my life," says Jeff Frings, FOX6 photojournalist.
In 20 years on the job, Frings rarely gets on the other side of the camera. But in all those years, he's never experienced anything quite like this.
"I`d estimate she was probably going 70 miles an hour," says Frings.
Police say the crash was caused by a speeder who blew a red light.
Two people in a car that was struck in the intersection were killed in this crash. Police say they are the vehicle’s 52-year-old operator, Christine Jaeger, and her 45-year-old passenger, Lisa Cope. Both women are from Greenfield.
Frings, along with multiple other witnesses, say an SUV blew through a red light at a high rate of speed — causing the collision.
Police say the SUV was being driven by a 62-year-old woman.
Frings was just a few cars behind. He got out and ran to the victims, he says Jaeger was clinging to life.
"At that time she was alive and I was talking to her - she wasn`t responding but I was talking to he," says Frings.
Later, he approached the 62-year-old driver.
"She said, 'My brakes didn`t work. My brakes didn`t work.' I said, 'What do you mean.' She said, 'My brakes didn`t work' and she was pushing on the gas pedal. I said, 'That`s the gas pedal'," says Frings.
The crash happened just before 5:30 p.m.
”The cars slowed down because the light was gonna change and instead of slowing down in its spot, (the SUV) sped around the other cars. By that time, the light had changed and it just went right through,” Rosie Caradine-Lewis said.
“I just seen the car go by, speeding and stuff at the light. It hit one of the cars and then the other ones hit afterward. It was going at least about 70. It was going 70 at least,” Gary Williams said.
“Oh my God, I just prayed. I closed my eyes, prayed, and the chain reaction started after that. I couldn`t believe my eyes,” Caradine-Lewis said.
After the initial collision, two other cars were caught up in the wreckage.
Police say the operators of those vehicles — a 53-year-old man and a 54-year-old woman were taken to the hospital for treatment of non life-threatening injuries.
The 62-year-old driver of the SUV was also taken to the hospital.
Dozens of onlookers gathered as the intersection was closed — covered with debris.
Neighbors say for years, speeders have been a problem in the area.
“Just hoping the city will finally do something about the accidents. I live right here on this block and we`re constantly having accidents,” Jones said.
Neighbors hope the crash sparks change.
“I think it`s a matter of speed, and individuals not paying attention and running the light and because of that, people`s lives are being taken away,” Jones said.
While the crowds eventually cleared away from the scene, the intersection remained closed hours after the crash.
Neighbors have suggested putting in more signs, speed bumps or even a roundabout at the intersection — and they also want drivers to pay attention.
Willie Wade, the district's alderman, says speed has been an issue on Sherman, especially during the summer months. He says he's working on a plan to try to change that.
"I have had conversations with the city engineer about maybe taking Sherman Blvd. down to one lane in each direction to address just that," says Wade.
Police say the 62-year-old driver of the SUV remains at the hospital, in custody — on two counts of homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle.
The investigation will be referred to the Milwaukee County District Attorney’s Office early next week.