Deer Park Area News and Events

Highway 46
Ashley Severson, 16, was killed along an icy stretch of Highway 46 in Polk County, Wis. Photo by Fox News-TV.

Two Amery Teens Killed in Crash
Fox-TV News Coverage
Superintendent decided on half-day of school
Last Edited: Friday, 02 Mar 2007, 6:32 PM CST
Created: Friday, 02 Mar 2007, 6:25 PM CST

Two Wisconsin teens were killed in Thursday’s snowstorm on their way home from school. On Thursday, school districts in both Minnesota and Wisconsin wrestled with the decision to cancel school. In the end, many of those schools decided to have a full day of classes before ending them early.

“We decided, with the forecast the way that it was, we certainly could get school” Amery School Superintendent Stephen Schiell said. “The weather wasn’t coming to the Cities until between 1:00 and 3:00, we’re obviously an hour north, we’d be in pretty good shape for maybe the whole day.”

When the weather didn’t cooperate, the plan changed, and by 8:30 Schiell made the decision that school would close by noon. By the time students at Amery High School were released, the snow had begun to taper off and visibility was clear. By then, the roads were already snow-covered and dangerous.

For a young driver behind the wheel, conditions were deadly. Ashley Severson, 16, had only had her drivers’ license for a few months. On an icy section of Highway 46 in Black Brook Township, she lost control of her Pontiac Sunfire, crossed the center line. She was struck and killed by an oncoming car. Her passenger, 16-year-old Nicole Peterson, was transferred to Regions Hospital in St. Paul, where she later died.

Despite wearing her seatbelt, Ashley was ejected from the car and died at the scene.

By Friday afternoon, crews were still working to clear snow from the high school parking lot. Amery schools remained closed Friday for bad weather, but Schiell says he doesn’t know if letting school out earlier would have prevented the deadly accident.

“We have no control over fate,” he said. “We’re going to miss two great kids.”

The Amery school district consulted with other school districts in the area. In the end, they were all on the same page, with the decision to start classes and end them early. When classes resume on Monday, extra counselors will be on hand to deal with the students’ grief.

KSTP-TV 5 Eyewitness News and Fox 9 News-TV Coverage.

Audio from KSTP-TV
1:55 minutes
Audio from FOX 9 News-TV
2:43 minutes

The audio portion of a KSTP-TV 5 Eyewitness News report by reporter Chris Keating is archived here. Anna Badman, Nick Stewart, the victim's friends, and Amery High School School Superintendent Stephen Schiell are interviewed.

Fox TV coverage is by Beth McDonough interviewing Amery High School student Amber Garrity and Superintendent Schiell.

[Obituary of Ashley Severson]

Posted on Sat, Mar. 03, 2007
Snow day ends in fatal crash for two teens
Close-knit friends had just been released from classes at Amery High
Pioneer Press

It's a student's dream — no more school due to snow.

But less than 20 minutes after classes were canceled as the region braced for another snowstorm Thursday, two Amery (Wis.) High School sophomores died from a head-on crash.

Ashley Severson, 16, of Deer Park, and longtime friend Nicole Peterson, 16, of Amery, had just left school and were traveling south on Wisconsin 46 when Severson appears to have lost control, crossed the center line and collided head-on with a northbound vehicle.

Severson was thrown from the vehicle and died at the scene. Rescue workers freed Peterson from the wreckage and took her to Amery Regional Medical Center. She was later transferred to Regions Hospital in St. Paul, where she died from her injuries.

The collision remains under investigation, Polk County Sheriff Tim Moore said, but wintry weather is believed to be a factor.

The driver of the second vehicle, David Sykora, 22, and his passenger, Matthew Carroll, 22, were taken to Amery Regional Medical Center. Their conditions, which officials said did not appear to be life-threatening, were not available.

The gregarious girls were remembered fondly Friday in the lake community of 2,845, where memorials are being planned and funeral services arranged.

"Everyone knew and liked them," classmate Lisa Lathrop said.

"They were very good friends. They were at each other's houses all the time. They went to Florida together and up to the cabin," said Peterson's mom, Jane Ricci.

Both girls were athletic, she said, and had been involved in a number of activities, including cheerleading and dance. "They loved to have fun," she said.

Severson and Peterson had recently gotten their driver's licenses. Peterson's aunt, Joan Ritten, spent last weekend truck shopping with her niece and was to go again this weekend.

"She was a beauty queen who wanted a big old truck," Ritten said. "She was sassy, in a good way, and such fun."

She'll remember many things about Peterson, Ricci said, but there's one thing she will never forget and likely think about every day. "Her smile. Her smile lights up a room."

The Williamson Funeral Home is handling funeral arrangements for both girls.

"They will both be missed," said Peterson's stepfather, Mike Ricci.

The Severson family was not available for comment.

Like many schools in western Wisconsin, the Amery school district, about 60 miles northeast of the Twin Cities, shut down at noon Thursday after the region received about a foot of snow and more was forecast.

Superintendent Stephen V. Schiell had kept a weather vigil all week, monitoring conditions and consulting with area school districts.

"We were concerned for the kids. We always err on the side of kids' safety," he said.

School also was canceled Friday, as crews continued to clear snow across the region, but counselors will be available at the 600-student high school Monday, Schiell said.

Kevin Harter can be reached at or by calling 1-800-950-9080, ext. 4414.

Friday, March 02, 2007
Deer Park Student in Two Car Crash near Amery
WXCE Radio Report

Details have now been released on a two-vehicle crash south of Amery on Thursday afternoon (March 1) that led to the death of two area 16-year-old girls. The crash occurred just south of Amery near the Airport Road, at around 12:19 pm. The two vehicles were traveling in separate directions when they struck. Names have now been released, and the driver of the southbound car was identified as 16-year-old Ashley Severson of Deer Park. She apparently lost control of the car on the slippery roadway and collided with a car going north driven by 22-year-old David Sykora – also from Deer Park. Ashley Severson was ejected from the vehicle and was pronounced dead on the scene. A passenger in her car – 16-year-old Nicole Peterson of Amery - was also seriously injured, and transported to Amery Regional Medical Center, and later transported to Regions Hospital in St. Paul, where she was pronounced dead a short time later. It is unclear at this time if either of the girls were wearing seatbelts. A passenger in the Sykora vehicle – 22-year-old Matthew Carroll of Deer Park was also injured in the crash. Both Sykora and Carroll were taken to Amery Regional Medical Center. Their condition is unknown. Investigation into the crash continues. Sheriff Tim Moore said it quote, “appears the crash was weather-related,” although the investigation continues. Several local agencies were involved in the response, including the State Patrol, Polk County Sheriff’s office, Amery Police, Fire and Ambulance services. Traffic was held up for a short while during the investigation. The incident is the second fatal crash of the year in Polk County, with a total of three deaths.

Crash claims lives of two Polk County teenage girls; weather may be to blame
RiverTown Newspaper Group
New Richmond News
Published Friday, March 02, 2007

The Polk County Sheriff's Department says the weather is probably to blame for an automobile accident that claimed the lives of two 16-year-old girls Thursday afternoon.

The crash occurred at around 12:20 p.m. on Highway 46 just south of Airport Road in the Town of Black Brook.

Officials say that Ashley Severson, 16, Deer Park, was driving a vehicle southbound on Highway 46, when she lost control of the vehicle.

The vehicle then hit a northbound vehicle driven by David Sykora, 22. Also in that vehicle was Matthew Carroll, 22. Both are from Deer Park.

Severson was thrown from her vehicle and was pronounced dead at the scene.

The passenger in Severson's vehicle, Nicole Peterson, 16, Amery, had to be extracted from the vehicle.

She was then taken to Amery Regional Medical Center and later airlifted Regions Hospital in St. Paul where she was pronounced dead due to her injuries.

Both Carroll and Sykora were taken by the Amery Municipal Ambulance to the Amery Regional Medical Center.

Carroll was treated and released according to a hospital spokesperson, but Sykora was transferred to Regions Hospital. Regions did not have any information available on him.

According to the Polk County Sheriff's Department this is the second fatal crash this year with a total of three deaths.

The Polk County Sheriff's Department is continuing its investigation into the crash.

Two Amery sophomores die Thursday

Amery Free Press
March 6, 2007

The public is invited to a memorial service at Amery high school auditorium to honor the lives of two Amery sophomores who died last week.

It will be at 6:30 p. on Wednesday, March 7. There will be a slide presentation and an open microphone for anyone who would like to speak.

Additional information is available by calling Dianne Dietrich, 268-5643.

Nicole Peterson, Amery, and Ashley Severson, Deer Park, both 16, were involved in a two vehicle accident on Thursday, March 1, about 12:19 p. on STH 46 just south of Airport Road.

The girls had just left school a few minutes earlier when afternoon classes were cancelled due to stormy weather.

The Polk county sheriff's department said that Ashley Severson was driving south when she lost control of her vehicle and hit a northbound vehicle driven by David Sykora, 22, Deer Park.

Severson was ejected from the vehicle and died at the scene.

Peterson, a passenger in the Severson vehicle, was extricated and treated at Amery Regional Medical Center before being taken to Regions Hospital in St. Paul where she died.

Sykora and his passenger, Matthew Carroll, Deer Park, also 22, were treated at Amery Regional Medical Center.

Amery Municipal Ambulance Service and Amery police and fire departments assisted the sheriff's department at the scene.

Services for Severson were held at Our Savior's Lutheran Church, Amery, on Monday and for Peterson at St. Joseph's Catholic Church, on Tuesday.

Obituaries of the two are printed elsewhere in this newspaper.
(Amery Free Press - front page lead story - Tuesday, March 6, 2007)

Crash Photo

Amery Free Press photo in the March 6, 2007 edition.

Another crash in same location near the airport road on January 29, 2007-

AMERY FREE PRESS: Amery Police Officer David Drinkwine, 37, was driving an Amery police care south of STH 46 near the airport about 3 a.m. Monday, Jan. 29. Terry J. Hughes, 34, Milltown, pulled onto STH 46 from 45th Ave. just south of the airport headed north. Investigating officers said that Hughes was driving down the center of the road in a 1977 Buick. Officer Drinkwine drove toward the shoulder where his vehicle was struck by Hughes. Hughes continued up the road about a mile before crashing again. He left his vehicle and attempted to elude officer by running and hiding in swamps on the east and west side of STH 46 in Amery near Griffin St. Polk County deputies found Hughes hiding in swamp grass. Deputies said he resisted arrest and they sprayed him with pepper spray before forcibly placing his arms behind his back. Deputies said Hughes told them he had been drinking and was drunk. He repeatedly fell asleep and snored when deputies tried to question him.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007
WXCE Radio

More details have been released on an incident that occurred early Monday morning south of Amery, where a call came in concerned about a man slumped over behind the wheel of a car, while it was running, in the middle of the road on State Highway 46. Amery Police Officer David Drinkwine responded to the call, and as he pulled up the car, the driver allegedly woke up and started to drive away, forcing officer Drinkwine off the road and disabling his squad car. County aid was requested, and the man was identified as 34-year-old Tracy Hughes of Milltown. He is alleged to have drove off toward the Amery Airport, where county officers pursued him into a swamp on foot. Hughes was taken into custody after a short chase. He is now facing charges of DUI, resisting arrest, failure to report a crash and possibly more. He was allegedly drunk at the time, and reportedly kept falling asleep at the hospital after he was taken into custody. In fact, the police report even mentions Hughes quote, “loud snoring” as they attempted to speak with him about the incident. No court appearance has been set yet, and Hughes has yet to be charged.

Deer Park person in Somerset Crash-
Thursday, February 01, 2007
WXCE Radio

The Wisconsin State Patrol and St. Croix County authorities are investigating a two-vehicle crash Wednesday evening near Somerset that led to the death of a 27-year-old Crystal Minnesota man. 18-year-old Ashley Fouks of Deer Park was behind the wheel of a 1992 Oldsmobile that was westbound on State Highway 35/64 at the County Road I overpass. She apparently went off the roadway at just before 6pm Wednesday, striking the guardrail in the median, and then spinning around back into the roadway. That was when her car was struck by a pickup driven by 61-year-old Terrence Weiss of New Richmond going the same direction. The Weiss pickup hit the Oldsmobile hard, killing a passenger in the Fouks’ vehicle. The man who died has now been identified as 27-year-old Deno Owczynsky of Crystal. He died on the scene. Ashley Fouks was taken by ambulance to Regions Hospital in St. Paul and treated for her injuries. The driver of the pickup truck was not hurt in the crash. St. Croix County Sheriff’s investigators and the State Patrol continue their investigation.