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Deadliest road in Milwaukee claims a dozen lives in 2020

Posted at 7:26 AM, Feb 23, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-23 23:14:55-05

MILWAUKEE — The deadliest road in the City of Milwaukee is not in one neighborhood or section of the city.

It is a street that runs from the north side to the south, 27th Street. That street along with Fond du Lac and Center Street account for a third of all the fatal crashes in the cities.

For the Vega family, 27th Street was supposed to be a safe way home from work. Isidro Vega usually took that street instead of the highway. However, on July 10, 2020, a reckless driver hit Isidro and his wife Sandra, killing them almost instantly.

“What did they take from you?” asked reporter Rebecca Klopf.

“Everything, everything that was normal to us,” said Dayanne Vega-Quintero, the couple’s daughter.

27th and Cleveland crash
Crash at 27th St. and Cleveland Ave. on July 10, 2020.

A man going more than 110 miles per hour hit the Vega’s SUV, sending it crashing into a light pole where it caught fire according to court records. That’s despite a posted limit of 35 mph. The crash left Dayanne and her four brothers without their world, their mom and dad.

“My mom, she was always very kind. My dad was very hard working. He was very nice also,” said Vega-Quintero crying.

Isidro and Sandra Vega killed in crash at 27th and Cleveland
Isidro and Sandra Vega center with their five children including their daughter Dayanne Vega-Quintero (far right).

She said the family had just moved into a new home. A dream come true for her parents who came here from Mexico to give their children a better life.

"My parents really liked that house. It was the perfect size. We had a garage, we had a basement. There was room for everyone,” said Vega-Quintero.

But without their parents' income, the children couldn’t afford to pay the rent and had to move into a small apartment. Dayanne, 20, went from a full-time college student to working full-time at a day care to provide for her young brothers.

"I have to take on a different role especially for my brothers. I have to take on the parental role so all the expenses, taking them to school, making sure they are on top on things, worrying about what the next step is going forward,” said Vega-Quintero.

Her parents are two of a dozen people who were killed last year along the nearly 12 mile stretch of 27th Street that runs from the north side of the city to the south side. It accounts for the most fatalities in Milwaukee according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

After that is Fond Du Lac with seven deaths from crashes followed by Center Street with 6 fatalities. The DOT says of the 88 deaths in crashes in Milwaukee, a third happened on one of those streets.

The main factor behind a majority of those crashes was speed. It is a problem north and south side aldermen are all too familiar with.

"I understand how bad the reckless driving and speeding is on 27th Street. A lot of people in a hurry and going around the cars and disregard for traffic lights and other people,” said north side Alderman Russell Stamper.

"People are trying to go about their normal lives. They are obeying the laws and it is just a small group that is placing everybody else in danger,” said south side Alderman Scott Spiker.

Judge Derek Mosley sits on the city’s Reckless Driving Task Force. He sees offenders on a regular basis in his Milwaukee courtroom.

"People have this misconception that a lot of the majority of the reckless drivers are teenagers. However, I, that is not necessarily the case I'll sit in court and I'll look down at the ticket and I'm like you're my age,” said Mosley. "It's not just teenagers, who are driving recklessly its people in their 30s and 40s."

He says the task force wants to attack the reckless driving problem from three different points starting with education and bringing driver’s education classes back into Milwaukee Public Schools.

"Another piece is enforcement, having police officers out there to enforce the traffic laws and to issue citations for those breaking those laws. And finally, an engineering piece the engineering piece being we call them road diets so doing things to the city streets which make them the lanes narrower,” said Mosley.

On 27th and Clybourn along with certain areas of Fond Du Lac, bump-outs or wider pedestrian islands were installed to prevent cars from weaving in the handout of traffic. But more work needs to be done.

"It is definitely an epidemic in our city and we all have to come together to reduce the speeding and get control of this reckless driving,” said Stamper.

The changes have come too late for the Vega-Quintero family. But their hope now is on keeping the rest of the family safe.

“Making sure we can stay together and be as strong as we can,” said Vega-Quintero.

The man who hit the Vega family, Anthony John Valdez, 19, is facing multiple charges for the crash including reckless homicide.

Vega-Quintero is working to become the first person in her family to graduate from college. She has been attending classes online while taking care of her family. There is a GoFundMe donation page set up to help the family.

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