A wrong-way trip down Interstate 94 near Johnson Creek has landed a driver in the hospital following a fiery collision on Wednesday night with a dump truck in a construction zone.
According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, a 30-year-old man from West Allis was driving an SUV the wrong way on I-94 in Jefferson County when, at about 11:40 p.m., his vehicle hit a dump truck head on.
Sgt. Shelly Hutter of the Wisconsin State Patrol said the driver, who has not been identified, appears to have initially been traveling west on I-94’s westbound lanes and then, for some reason, to have turned around to go east without switching over to the other side of the highway.
Both the SUV and the dump truck were on fire when state troopers arrived at the construction zone. Hutter said the driver of the dump truck came out of the crash relatively unscathed. He was described as a 55-year-old man from Milwaukee. His name has likewise not been made public.
The driver of the SUV, in contrast, suffered life-threatening injuries and had to be extricated from his vehicle. He was taken by Flight For Life helicopter to Froedtert Hospital west of downtown Milwaukee.
WisDOT officials report that the driver was suspected of being under the influence of alcohol and could be subject to enforcement actions.
The crash occurred at I-94’s Mile Marker 270. Chris Hodges, the WisDOT project manager overseeing the work there, said crews are repairing the highway’s center line along a 34-mile stretch starting near Jefferson County’s border with Waukesha County and running into Dane County.
They are also routing out cracks and repairing the pavement with sealant. The prime contractor on the nearly $2 million project is Payne & Dolan Inc., of Waukesha.
Hodges said the driver of the dump truck was not a direct employee of Payne & Dolan but rather a subcontractor. Hodges said the I-94 maintenance project got underway on Monday.
The work requires shutting down one lane of the highway. To avoid interference with traffic, crews have been going out mostly at night.
That sort of scheduling is usually safer for workers, because it keeps them off the road during the busiest travel times, Hodges said.
“But unfortunately,” he said, “incidents like this happen.”Follow @TDR_WLJDan