Caledonia family has recorded 18 car crashes onto their property over 20 years
RACINE COUNTY -- One Caledonia family says over the past 20 years, 18 cars have plowed onto their property! It something that has the Laufenberg family living in fear, and engineers scratching their heads -- wondering what could be causing all these crashes!
Up to 6,000 drivers pass by Mark Laufenberg's home at the intersection of County Road G and County Road H in Caledonia every day. Laufenberg has recorded 18 crashes onto his property over the past 20 years, and three just this year!
"The majority of them go down the driveway and hit the sheds," Laufenberg said.
Laufenberg's property is blocked off by a guardrail and cement blocks, and closer to his home -- a fieldstone porch Laufenberg built himself, after a car driven by a Boy Scout leader crashed into the old wooden porch.
Out of control drivers have knocked down Laufenberg's trees, damaged his car and even killed family cats.
"The driver kind of made a little snide joke about it, (saying) 'they're just a couple farm cats,'" Laufenberg said.
The latest crash occurred on September 17th, when a driver crashed through the guardrail protecting Laufenberg's property. That driver was charged with his fifth OWI. His arrest was just the latest in a string of incidents that have left Laufenberg feeling uneasy at night.
"Anywhere from 11:00 to 2:00 in the morning you kind of anticipate it," Laufenberg said.
Caledonia police say they're familiar with the home and its perpetual problems.
"If I lived there, and there wasn't a guardrail there, I don't think I could sleep at night," Caledonia Police Lt. Gary Larsen said.
Lt. Larsen told FOX6 News he recalls responding to one incident when a drunk driver barreled into a pile of firewood. Officials had to move all the firewood to free the driver.
Lt. Larsen says since 2007, there have been 15 accidents at the intersection of County Highway G and County Highway H, and at least four of those drivers crashed onto the Laufenberg's property. At least three of the drivers were arrested for OWI.
"The only thing you could reasonably do is move the house or move the intersection," Lt. Larsen said.
Rumble strips were added to County Road G in 2001 as part of Racine County's attempt to slow down drivers approaching the Laufenberg's home. Director of Public Works, Julie Anderson says officials also added a dedicated turn lane, and in 2009, a blinking LED stop sign that can be seen from a mile away.
Anderson insists there is no design problem.
"Our engineers have studied this intersection and we have done various safety improvements. This is one of our intersections where we think we've done just about as much as we can do," Anderson said.
In short, engineers are befuddled.
Laufenberg wants the speeds limit lowered from 55 miles-per-hour and even more signs for drivers, but he admits those changes may not solve the real issue: "Drinking and driving and being stupid about it," Laufenberg said.
Laufenberg has asked his next-door neighbor to sell or trade a sliver of land so Laufenberg can move his driveway. Right now, the driveway lines up perfectly with oncoming traffic on County Highway G.
"We can move our driveway to the north and they could put a double guard rail across our old driveway," Laufenberg said.
So far, Laufenberg's neighbor has refused to sell any land.
In the meantime, Laufenberg says his family has no plans to leave, though their home sits on one of the most dangerous spots in Racine County.
FOX6 News is told it is possible when Highway 38 is redesigned in a few years, the intersection could be reworked as part of that project. That means the property may be bought out to make way for construction, or the road will be redesigned with safety upgrades in mind.