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Thread: Something regarding my accident that I've wondered about for so many years.

  1. #1

    Something regarding my accident that I've wondered about for so many years.

    I was injured in a car accident nearly 26 years ago, and I was 8 years old at the time. I was riding in the back of a station wagon (without seatbelts) with my sister, and my friends Debbie and Patti. We were in rural Wisconsin and a drunk driver hit us. My sister somehow stayed in the car after the impact, and had very minor injuries. Debbie, Patti, and I were thrown out of the car. I landed on the road and broke my arm and my back (although I remember none of it, I'm told that I was up and walking around after the accident. It was later when I was in the hospital that the bone chips in my back, unknown to the doctors, caused swelling which crushed my spinal cord.) So anyway, I landed on the hard pavement and Debbie and Patti landed in the ditch... and in puddles. They died at the scene, and I've never understood why.

    I grew up with a family who wouldn't talk about the accident. In fact, they still won't talk about it. Sometime within the past 10 years, I got a copy of the accident report. The report didn't give me any answers, so I contacted one of the witnesses. He said that he remembered two little girls lying face down in puddles and that he wanted to at least turn the girls over so that they could breathe, but the girl's dad wouldn't let anyone touch or move them. He said that he almost got into a fist fight with the dad about it. This makes me wonder if they died because the were knocked unconscious, and they drown in the puddles?

    I suppose the answer to this question doesn't really matter, but it is something that I've been wondering about for almost 26 years.

    My question here is, does anyone have any idea how I could find out exactly what their cause of death was? The accident report did not say, and my family isn't talking. Keeping in mind that this was in 1978, and in rural Wisconsin, would there have most likely been an autopsy? Wouldn't the ER doctors have at least examined them a little to try to figure out why they died? Wouldn't there be hospital records about them? And would they be available to me? I guess I can call the hospital, but I would like to first have a little bit of knowledge about procedures when a person dies at the scene, and things like that.

    I'm thinking maybe that getting a copy of their death certificates might give me some answers, but I have no idea where to even start getting that information.

    Any help is appreciated.

    Alive for 34 years
    T4/5 complete for 25 years
    Mom for 7 years

  2. #2
    Shannon, I don't know about rural Wisconsin but I know in major cities and just about everywhere in the U.S. now it is SOP to do an autopsy in the case of any death other than those of people with terminal illnesses and those of elderly people where there is no evidence their death was anything but natural.

    I would start with the death certificate which should list the cause of death and whether or not an autopsy was done. You can get a copy of the death certificate from the Dept. of Vital Records in the county of their deaths. When I got a copy of Matt's mom's death certificate they asked for my I.D. and relationship to her and charged a nominal fee to make a copy. You can find out what they require by calling or maybe they are on the web. They should be able to help you with any questions you have, i.e. how to get a copy of any autopsy should it exist. Be prepared with any questions you might want to ask as they usually don't volunteer any info.

    If I were you I'd want some answers also, especially since it's obviously on your mind, you need some closure. Good luck.


  3. #3
    Thank you Jewel!

    I guess seeing if I can get ahold of their death certificates should be my first step.

    Alive for 34 years
    T4/5 complete for 25 years
    Mom for 7 years

  4. #4
    Are you sure you are allowed access to their death certs? From a web site I saw, it looks like you have to be a direct relative, spouse, law enforcement, or funeral director.

  5. #5

    Wisconsin Vital Records, Death Certificates

    You can order an uncertified copy of their death certificates, which should have a cause of death listed.

    I hope this helps.

    ...child, when life don't seem worth livin', come to jesus and let him hold you in his arms

  6. #6
    vsu, I was wondering that myself. I guess I will find out soon.

    Steven, thanks so much! This might be easier than I thought it would be. I haven't looked at the site yet, but I will in a bit.

    Alive for 34 years
    T4/5 complete for 25 years
    Mom for 7 years

  7. #7
    Okay, thanks to you Steven, I found out that only a relative can get a certified copy of the death certificate. Anyone can get an uncertified copy. The only difference between the two is that the uncertified copies cannot be used for legal purposes.

    All I have to do is send them an application for each certificate, and $7.00 for each.

    This really is easier than I ever thought it would be! I just hope it gives me some answers.

    Alive for 34 years
    T4/5 complete for 25 years
    Mom for 7 years

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