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Union Center man killed in holiday weekend accident


Vernon County’s second 2022 fatal motor vehicle accident occurred on Thursday, May 26, 2022, at 2:49 p.m. According to authorities, the Vernon County 911 Dispatch Center received a 911 phone call reporting a 2-vehicle crash with injuries on County Road V, north of State Highway 33, in the Town of Forest, near Mt. Tabor.

A 1992 Dodge Ram truck, driven by Dustin E. Downing, 35-years-old, of Kendall, was traveling south on County Road V. Suddenly, Downing’s truck veered left, and crossed the centerline into the path of a 2013 Honda Pilot SUV, driven by Joel R. Penegor, 52-years-old, of Wauwatosa, WI. Penegor swerved to avoid the collision but was unable to avoid Downing’s vehicle.

Adam J. Friedl, 27-years-old, of Union Center, and Gary M. Stokley, 31-years-old, of Elroy, were passengers in Downing’s truck. Downing and Stokley were transported to Gundersen St. Joseph’s Hospital in Hillsboro and later transported to Gundersen Health System in La Crosse for serious, but non-life-threatening injuries. Friedl was pronounced deceased at the scene by Vernon County Coroner Betty Nigh. Penegor received minor injuries and declined medical treatment on scene.

Assisting the Vernon County Sheriff’s Office on-scene was the Hillsboro Fire Department, Hillsboro Ambulance Service, La Farge Ambulance Service, Vernon County Coroner’s Office, Wisconsin State Patrol, Ron’s Towing, and Peterson Towing.


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