No charges for Trooper involved in fatal crash with Schofield kidnapping suspect, passenger

By  | 

MADISON, Wis. (WSAW) -- The Wisconsin Department of Justice reports the State Patrol Trooper involved in a crash that resulted in the deaths of two Wausau men will face no criminal charges.

The fatal crash happened April 29 around 8 a.m. on I-39/51 near Portage. The driver was identified as 24-year-old Ter-Rance Phillit Simmons. He was a Schofield kidnapping suspect. His passenger was identified as 25-year-old Terrance P. Simmons.

The report states as the suspect vehicle was approaching, Trooper Jeffrey Hoffman inched out towards the roadway from the driver’s side corner of his squad. As he did so, the suspect vehicle changed lanes from left lane to right lane. From the edge line, he tossed out the spikes across the roadway, the spikes covered the entire left lane and ½ of the right lane. He saw the suspect vehicle’s left front tire make contact with the spikes and then continue southbound. Trooper Hoffman told agents that from a safe distance off the roadway, he immediately removed the spikes from the roadway so that other responding squads would not strike it. As he was doing so, he heard a crash and saw that the front end of the suspect vehicle had crashed into the rear of the semi-tractor trailer in the southbound lane of Interstate 39, just prior to the Baraboo River Bridge. He told agents he did not see the initial collision and only saw the after effects of the collision. Which he explained was the suspect vehicle after it struck the rear of the semi-tractor trailer.

The report states, “No evidence that the death of another person was intended or that Trooper Hoffman or any other officer was aware that his or her conduct was practically certain to cause that result. Mr. Simmons made the decision to flee from law enforcement and to continue attempting to get away at a reckless speed.”

The DOJ report states Simmons’ vehicle reached speeds in excess of 100 miles per hour. The DOJ reports, less than two seconds after running over a portion of the spike strips and making sudden lane changes at high speed, the vehicle crashed into the rear of a semi-truck on Interstate 39 which resulted in the death of both Ter-rance Phillit Simmons and Terrance P. Simmons.

According to Everest Metro Police Chief Clay Schulz, officers responded to a report of battery in Schofield the night before the fatal crash. Officers learned a woman had been beaten and forcefully taken away in a vehicle by her boyfriend. The suspect also assaulted another woman who tried to intervene.

The female victim was later located and interviewed by Everest Metro detectives. They learned of the suspect's identity, possible whereabouts and that he was armed with a loaded handgun.

In her final report, the Columbia County District Attorney, Brenda Yaskal, found, "no basis to conduct any further investigation and there is no basis to issue criminal charges against any of the law enforcement officers involved in the decision to engage in a pursuit or to deploy [spike strips] to stop the vehicle driven by Ter-rance Simmons."

The crash was investigated by DCI as an officer-involved incident.