JEFFERSON — Jefferson County Deputy Medical Examiner Dawn Kiernan on Friday released the names of the three people who were killed in a multi-vehicle crash that occurred Wednesday at 3:56 a.m. on Interstate 94.
All were from outside the Jefferson and Dodge County areas.
Kiernan said the people who died in the incident were Harold Ostrander of Jackson, Mich.; Jason Smeltzer of Chippewa Falls and Thomas Meier of Greenfield.
The only age available was that of Smeltzer, who was 41. All of the men were over the age of 40, however, Kiernan said.
The three men were struck and killed along the interstate near mile marker 262 after they got out of their vehicles following the crash, according to Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office Capt. Travis Maze.
County officials said a vehicle operated by Ostrander, with his wife as a passenger, was hauling a cargo trailer westbound when it veered out of control and crashed into a guardrail on the interstate.
A second vehicle, a Ford Escape, operated by Meier, crashed into the first vehicle hauling the trailer. A third vehicle, a truck operated by Smeltzer, also was involved in the incident but was not part of the impacts.
A semi-truck then became involved and this led to the deaths of the three men.
The crash remains under investigation.
The three drivers of the vehicles all were standing near the crash site when they were killed. All of the drivers but Ostrander were traveling alone in their vehicles. Ostrander’s wife was not injured.
Officials say they are not pursuing criminal charges against the driver of the truck that killed the three men at this time, calling it an accident.
Kiernan said the crash was a tragic mishap that took place on a dark interstate in the middle of the night. She said the driver of the semi that was the last vehicle through the scene “will likely never be the same” due to the trauma of the incident.
Maze called the crash, “very convoluted and complex.”
“We are asking people that, if people are involved in a crash, they please stay in their vehicles,” Maze said. “First responders have the safety equipment to render aid.”
Kiernan adamantly echoed Maze’s statement that people always should remain in their vehicles after a crash occurs.
“I’m a firm believer in that. Stay in your car — unless it’s on fire or something like that,” she said. “Just use common sense. You just never know. Don’t stand in the road. Stay in your car, people.
“I can’t stress that enough,” Kiernan added. “You are safer in there — even on the county highways and highways like 26. The vehicle is the safest place to be until help arrives.”