Flight For Life responded to a serious injury crash on Tuesday on the western edge of Watertown.
The victim was a 67-year-old Cambria man who received life threatening injuries in a single-vehicle crash.
The crash occurred at about 1:30 p.m. and the man was the only occupant in the vehicle. The incident occurred as he was exiting southbound from State Highway 26 toward a roundabout for State Highway 19 in the Town of Emmet.
A responding Dodge County Sheriff’s Office lieutenant arrived shortly after the crash and the man was found trapped and unresponsive, but breathing, inside the truck.
The man was transported by Flight For Life to an area hospital with life-threatening injuries after being extricated by the Watertown Fire Department.
The initial investigation showed he was suspected of being involved in a minor hit and run crash on State Highway 26 in the Town of Oak Grove, near Juneau.
It was reported the striking vehicle fled that scene southbound. As deputies responded to locate the vehicle, updates were received that the striking truck was traveling at a high rate of speed, and had eventually exited and crashed.
Both crashes remain under investigation by the Crash Investigation Team. Excessive speed was a factor in the seriousness of the second crash. Other factors are being investigated.
Assisting with the crash response and investigation were the Watertown Police Department, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, Wisconsin State Patrol, Watertown Fire and Paramedics, Dodge County Emergency Response Team and Flight For Life.
City leaders have called for a new nonprofit group to take the lead on ensuring Riverfest continues.
Two weeks after the City of Watertown finance committee discussed the annual summer event’s precarious finances and the impending loss of key organizers, Alderman Jonathan Lampe told the committee he is helping to form a new group that would run the festival if the city can ensure it has access to the funds the existing group is leaving behind.
“I would encourage the city to grant the remaining funds to the new nonprofit, and I have assurances from local foundation leadership and the team that sufficient operating capital—in the area of $75,000 or more—would be made available in advance of the festival,” Lampe said.
Tom Schultz founded the music-filled, four-day party 35 years ago and announced this month he would be retiring from running the event. It is also losing its events coordinator, John Ertl.
It’s run by a nonprofit organization that is self-funded and self-sustaining, and it attracts thousands of people to Riverside Park in the heart of Watertown each summer in early August. The event features bands, local food, drink, a carnival midway and other attractions, such as a car show and distance run.
Lampe said the new nonprofit group—made up of past and present Riverfest members—will address the governance, financing and operations of the festival.
He asked the city attorney to draft an ordinance and resolution to detach the Riverfest Celebration Committee from the city, transfer its powers and remaining contents of the Riverfest fund to the new nonprofit.
Lampe said the city was in charge of paying the bills and invoices in 2022. He said the city would continue doing so next year, but would stop in 2024.
“We want to make this a sustainable option for the future,” Lampe said. “We’re still expecting music, food and beverage and a multi-day festival, but everything else is on the table (to cut).”
Lampe said the members of the new nonprofit are planning to work with sponsors that cushion the potential impact of weather on the four-day outdoor festival. The event has lost money some years when weather cancels a day or affects attendance.
“Last year, the festival signed up only one corporate sponsor, and mainly relied on early ticket sales and a raffle for other community support,” Lampe said. “But there are other ways—especially those that tie local brands into the experience—and I’m looking forward to seeing those in action.”
He said he wants the group to work with a professional marketing team or Watertown’s tourism director Robin Kaufmann to help promote Riverfest and draw more sponsors.
Lampe encouraged Watertown Mayor Emily McFarland and the city’s departments to work with the new group on an operational plan, which could lend itself to a contract clarifying what the city would do and what the new nonprofit would do.
He said finance committee members will meet the new nonprofit group Dec. 12, when they present their plan and outline a pro forma budget that should put a revived festival at the break-even point or possibly in the black in year one.
“I’ll be happy if we break even and even happier if we can get into a profitable area,” Lampe said.