Richfield Crash Victims, Suspects Identified
RICHFIELD - Karl Ziebart, his family and two young neighbors, all of Hubertus, were on their way to Brookfield's Victory International Fellowship Church on Sunday morning. They never arrived.
On a snowy, slippery hill on Highway 164 in Richfield, an out-of-control one-ton flatbed truck crossed center and crashed into the Ziebart’s Ford Explorer.
Karl, his 9-year-old son Luke and the family's 12-year-old friend Cara Peters died.
"I went through denial,” said Karl’s brother, Bernie Ziebart. “I couldn't understand that he was gone at first."
Karl's wife Denise was at Froedtert Hospital suffering with head trauma. The Ziebart’s two oldest children, 11-year-old Zachariah and 14-year-old Amber, and 11-year-old Devon Peters are at Children’s Hospital.
Doctors moved Denise to Children’s Hospital so she could be with her surviving son and daughter, according to a Web posting by her church.
"Her son, when I was in his room after the operation, he opened his eyes and looked up at me and said 'Pastor, the first thing I did when the truck hit us, I prayed,'" said Bruce Headley, senior pastor at Victory International.
The three men in the flatbed truck were not injured. They are brothers from Milwaukee who authorities believe are in this county illegally. The Washington County Sheriff’s Department planned to turn Ricardo, Armando and Javier Guerrero over to federal immigration authorities on Monday or Tuesday.
"That's pretty disappointing because we know there's at least one way it could have prevented,” Sheriff Dale Schmidt told TODAY’S TMJ4 reporter Tom Murray. “That is, they shouldn't have been in that place at that time driving a vehicle,”
Investigators are considering charges or citations against the driver, 38-year-old Ricardo Guerrero. They say he does have a valid Wisconsin driver’s license.
Elliott Moeser, administrator of the Richfield School District, said Cara Peters was a 7th grader at Richfield Middle School. Luke had previously been a student in the district, but was most recently being home schooled by his parents, Moeser said.
A white wooden cross has been placed at the scene of the accident, along with flowers and a teddy bear.
The Ziebart funerals will take place at Victory International Fellowship, but the date is not yet determined, according a posting on the church’s Web site.
Pastors are asking that cards for the survivors be mailed to the church at 3285 N. Calhoun Rd, Brookfield, WI 53005. They are providing condition updates through a blog on the church’s Web site, www.vifonline.org.