By Steve Schuster
New questions emerged Wednesday from a 2019 motor vehicle accident involving Wisconsin Supreme Court Candidate Dan Kelly.
At the time of the Aug. 9 accident, Kelly wrote in a report to authorities that he stopped at a stop sign in rural Waukesha County near his North Prairie home, looked both ways, didn’t see anything and proceeded to drive his vehicle forward.
However, one of the accident victims, Frank Remfrey, told the Wisconsin Law Journal during an interview Wednesday that’s not at all what happened.
“There is no way we would have been knocked unconscious landing in the hospital, not to mention our van spinning out of control and landing in a ditch if it wasn’t for Dan Kelly running the stop sign and striking our van,” Remfrey said.
“I don’t know how Kelly could have spun our van around landing us in a ditch if he had started from a stopped position. That would have defied laws of physics,” Remfrey said.
Remfrey also said Kelly felt remorse over the accident.
“Dan Kelly was quite remorseful and checked up on us frequently,” Remfrey said, noting that Kelly” must have been distracted to go through a stop sign at a very familiar intersection near his house.”
Remfrey said that he was mostly OK after being discharged from the hospital, but needed rotator-cuff surgery more recently, which he attributed to the accident.
He also said that one of the passengers in the vehicle was Ronald Paul. Refrey said Paul got hit in both directions from the air bag in front and from a grandfather clock they were transporting from the back.
“The clock slid forward and struck Ronald from the back,” Remfrey said.
Ronald Paul also told the Wisconsin Law Journal on Wednesday that Dan Kelly ran a stop sign, hit the vehicle he was a passenger in and knocked him unconscious, Paul said.
“I was out like a light,” Paul said, noting that he was rushed to the hospital.
So did Kelly tell the truth to police about stopping at the stop sign?
Former Waukesha County District Attorney Paul Bucher, who is now a criminal defense attorney, told the Wisconsin Law Journal on Wednesday that he was not aware of Kelly’s accident and noted that he is a donor and supporter of Kelly.
Bucher said generally speaking under Wisconsin law and not specific to Kelly’s accident, an individual has the right to not incriminate himself.
“I tell my clients all of the time not to say anything,” Bucher said, noting that “he said, she said,” cases are very common in traffic accidents, similar to Kelly’s accident.
When there is conflicting information from two parties in an accident, who is telling the truth? Bucher said one way to find out is through an accident reconstruction.
It is unknown if an accident reconstruction was performed for this particular case. However, more recently, just one week before the Supreme Court April 4 race, new allegations were raised on Twitter about the accident.
On March 28, 2023, John Yazek tweeted, “When will #DrunkDrivingDanKelly accept responsibility for nearly killing 2 people in 2019?”
On Aug. 9, 2019, Kelly who was then sitting on the bench of the Wisconsin Supreme Court, was issued a citation by the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Office for failing to yield the right of way at a stop sign. However, the Waukesha County Sheriff’s deputy who responded to the crash did not perform a sobriety test or a breathalyzer test, according to court documents.
Therefore, it would appear no evidence exists that Kelly was inebriated at the time of the collision.
The Wisconsin Law Journal reached out to the Waukesha County Sheriff’s Office, but did not receive any on the record comments prior to publication.
Remfrey noted that the time of the accident was 11:30 a.m. and did not think that Kelly had been drinking.
Regarding the incident, Bucher said in any case like this, it would be the government’s burden to prove that the driver “blew through the stop sign.” Bucher said lying about running a stop sign is subjective, whereas a claim that someone is not actually at the scene of the accident to begin with would be purely objective. In subjective cases like this, Bucher said, “I don’t believe an individual has to tell the truth when it’s going to incriminate them.”
Bucher said it’s unlikely that anyone would be charged with lying to the police in this type of report, despite it still being within the three-year statute of limitations in Kelly’s case.
Kelly was ultimately found guilty after a no contest plea in violation of Wis. Stats 346.18(3) failing to yield the right of way from a stop sign, resulting in bodily harm. Kelly was fined $389.50, according to court documents.
The Wisconsin Law Journal reached out to Kelly and Yazek on Wednesday, but was not able to reach either of them prior to publication.