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Accused driver had received license only weeks before deadly crash, case moves forwardSubmitted: 07/31/2014

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CRANDON - The case against an 18-year-old Laona man will go ahead after a Forest County judge found enough evidence to move forward Wednesday.

Austin Ginter, 18, faces reckless homicide charges in Forest County after a car crash killed 15-year-old Chance Harcus. Another 16-year-old girl was also injured in the July 13th car crash on Old 8 Road west of Crandon.

New information from a preliminary hearing Wednesday shows that Ginter only had his driver's license for two weeks before the crash.

Wisconsin State Patrolman Justin Bender testified for the prosecution. He was the officer that reconstructed the car crash. He says the car was going at least 114 miles per hour when the driver lost control, but could have been going as fast as 126 miles per hour.

The Special Prosecutor Jodie Bednar-Clemens argued that Ginter was driving the car without thinking of the passengers' safety.

"Clearly, when you are going 120 miles an hour, on a 35 mph road, which is extremely hilly, you're traveling over the center line, you've got somebody in the vehicle who is begging you to slow down and refusing to do it, I think that is criminal recklessness," Bednar-Clemens said.

The criminal complaint shows that the 16-year-old surviving passenger told an officer she had her eyes closed and didn't want to be there before the crash. It also said that she had told Ginter to slow down earlier in the car trip, which he did in that instance.

But the 16-year-old testified for the defense in court, and testified she never said a word to Ginter about speed or anything.

"I never begged, I never said a word (to Ginter) until I felt the car swerve," the girl said in testimony.

Brian Bennett, Ginter's defense attorney, argued that was enough to stop the case.

"That witness has been subpoenaed, she is out in the hall today and she will testify that, what the state just said is not in fact the case," Bennett said.

The surviving passenger also said the car felt like it was going 60 mph before the crash, even though her eyes were closed, but the re-creation expert from the state patrol put the speed at 114-126 mph.

The criminal complaint had also showed that the 16-year-old girl had told an officer her eyes were closed before the crash because she was nauseous.

The prosecution attributes that sickness to the extremely high speed they believe Ginter was driving, but the girl testified that was out of context.

She said she always gets nauseous while riding in cars, so she frequently closes her eyes to deal with the sickness. That became an issue with Judge Leon Stenz.

According to testimony, the car that was crashed was under the girl's father's name, but she said she was making payments for it. Stenz asked if she had the same type of nausea while she was driving. She said it did happen, but she could control it, and if she couldn't she would pull over to the side of the road.

There had also been testimony from the 16-year-old girl that Ginter was her best friend, and that he had recently moved into her family's home.

After more than an hour in court, Judge Stenz decided there was enough evidence for the case to go ahead. Ginter could spend 60 years in prison if convicted of the charges. He'll be back in court in August.



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 LOCAL NEWS
Update-Man dead after being pulled from a Vilas County LakeSubmitted: 07/31/2014

CONOVER - We now know the man pulled from the water of a Vilas County lake Wednesday died.

The Sheriff's Department says the man was in Upper Buckatabon Lake in Conover.

They now say the man collapsed over the side of his boat before being rescued from the water.

The first call to the sheriff's department yesterday afternoon said it appeared the man was hit by his own boat.

The man was pulled from the water and C-P-R was immediately performed.

He was flown to Wausau Aspirus Hospital.

The man's name has not been released at this time.

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SPECIAL REPORT: DHS investigates Golden Age facility in Tomahawk Submitted: 07/31/2014

TOMAHAWK - We first told you about concerns about a nursing home operator in Tomahawk back in December.

Now, we have new information on Golden Age in Tomahawk.

The state Department of Health and Human Services completed an investigation into the facility at the end of last month. The report became available to WJFW Thursday morning.

The 311-page report gives details into why the facility was cited for sub-standard quality of care.

Golden Age broke 21 federal nursing home rules.

The report states that nurses weren't keeping accurate records of bathroom breaks and showers for patients.

Some of those patients went nearly three weeks without a shower or routine skin checks.

The state also found that at least two patients were physically restrained, which is illegal.

The facility serves patients with specific dementia care needs.

Those responsible for that care were cited for not being focused enough on individual patient needs.

Nurses at the facility were seen as more dependent on medication for treating those patients, instead of one-on-one interaction.

The nursing home is owned by GoldenLiving Centers, which is based out of Texas.

They're one of the largest nursing home operators in the country.

We want to be clear, that GoldenLiving Centers owns two facilities in Tomahawk.

The facility in question is Golden Age.

If you'd like to follow the discussion, or to learn more about the DHS report, you can join the discussion on our Facebook page.



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Man sent to hospital after ATV crashSubmitted: 07/31/2014

TOMAHAWK - An ATV crash sent a Tomahawk man to the hospital last night.

The Lincoln County Sheriff's department tells us 49 year old Michael Van Strydonk was hurt around 11 last night just outside of Tomahawk.

His ATV had been going south on Cloverbelt road.

It rolled over as Van Strydonk approached the intersection with County D.

He was conscious and talking right after the crash, but was unresponsive by the time emergency personnel arrived.

Van Strydonk was taken to St. Joseph's hospital in Marshfield, where he was in stable condition Thursday morning.

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Rock throwing case moves forward for one of the accusedSubmitted: 07/31/2014

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CRANDON - Prosecutors in Forest County accuse a group of four people of throwing rocks off of a bridge and damaging a car. Victims Wednesday described the sound like a bomb going off.

19-year-old Thomas Hines is one of four people facing charges for throwing rocks off of a Forest County bridge just after 3 a.m. June 3, 2014. The other three facing charges include 18 year-old Mariya Tuckwab, 20 year-old Ryan Kitchmaster, and 21-year-old Dillon Votis.

All four face multiple felony charges for recklessly endangering safety and criminal damage to property.

Prosecutors say those rocks hurt a woman inside of the car.

Hines was in court Wednesday for his preliminary hearing.

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New DNR program offers chance for expert management for private landownersSubmitted: 07/30/2014

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RHINELANDER - Many hunters, wildlife watchers, and landowners would like to see more deer on their property.

The Wisconsin DNR wants to help them do that.

Its new Deer Management Assistance Program offers landowners a chance to partner with the agency.

The DNR can visit private plots of land and offer management suggestions.

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Researchers believe smoke-free policy could lead to more customers at Northwoods casino Submitted: 07/30/2014

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LAC DU FLAMBEAU - More than two-thirds of visitors to the Lake of the Torches Casino say smoking bothers them.

That's just one of the results from the first-of-its-kind study on attitudes towards smoking in casinos.

The Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council and the casino in Lac du Flambeau joined together to survey more than 950 people in 2011.

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Classic and antique boat showSubmitted: 07/30/2014

TOMAHAWK - The Tomahawk Classic Motor and Boat Show is a chance for people who love outboard motor boats to come together each year. The show is hosted by the Northwoods Chapter of the Antique Outboard Motor Association and is now celebrating the 35th anniversary of the show.

"A lot of these people have had them, because this is boating country up here," said Northwoods AOMCI President Bob Dalle Ave. "Even the younger ones will say my grandpa had a motor like that or my dad has a motor like that at home. So it's the motors that draw them in."

The show hosts swap meets, boat shows, boat parades, and boat cruises. Out of the more than 200 registered show boaters, many of them planned to do more than just display their boat.

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