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Saturday crash kills four in rural Cornell

Four people, including three from Eau Claire, died in this crash in rural Cornell the afternoon of Saturday, May 27, 2017.

Chippewa County Sheriff's Office

Four survivors of a May 27, 2017 crash in rural Cornell that killed four people are suing three insurance companies in Chippewa County Court. The lawsuit was filed Tuesday by David J. Kummer, Jr., Cody J. Kummer, Nicole A. Rooni and Michael A. Molitor, all of Medford. They are suing their own insurance companies in an effort to receive underinsured motorist coverage.

Killed in the crash in the town of Ruby was David J. Kummer Jr.’s wife, Kristine J. Kummer, 46.

Others killed were Mikaila S. Toske, Raven A. Ellin, 21, and Jonathon J. Jorgenson, 35, all of Eau Claire.

The defendants in the lawsuit are Partners Mutual Insurance of Waukesha, Acuity, a Mutual Insurance Company of Sheboygan, and Badger Mutual Insurance Company of Milwaukee.

“Partners Mutual Insurance Company has failed to act in good faith in responding to claims to demands of David J. Kummer, Jr., individually and as a surviving spouse of Kristine Kummer,” the lawsuit said, which said Kummer and his wife had a policy through Partners. Molitor had a policy with Acuity while Cody Kummer and Ronni had a policy through Badger.

The crash happened on Highway 64 and County G. A report from the Chippewa County Sheriff’s Office said the driver of a minivan, Cara L. Stevens, 23, of Eau Claire told an officer she was “looking up from something” when the crash happened at 5:02 p.m.

Stevens drove a 2007 Chrysler Pacifica while David Kummer was driving a 2002 Chevrolet Silverado pickup truck, which was hauling a trailer.

Kristine Kummer was a passenger in David Kummer’s vehicle, along with Molitor, Cody Kummer and Nicole Rooni. The three others killed in the crash were passengers in Stevens’ vehicle.

“Cara L. Stevens negligently operated her vehicle such that a collision occurred between the Stevens vehicle and a vehicle by David J. Kummer, Jr,” the lawsuit said.

“Cara L. Stevens negligently and carelessly operated her vehicle so as to cause injury and damage to (the plaintiffs).”

The lawsuit says David Kummer, Cody Kummer, Rooni and Molitor “have sustained serious and permanent personal injuries and have incurred and will incur in the future pain and suffering, disability and medical and other expenses and losses.”

Stevens’ insurance was Progressive Classic Insurance, but the lawsuit said Steven’s policy did not carry adequate policy limits to cover all of the claims. Progressive offered to pay a portion of its policy limits to all of the plaintiffs.

The plaintiffs are represented by Eau Claire attorney Edmund Manydeeds. The defendants have 45 days to respond to the lawsuit. The lawsuit has been assigned to Judge Steven Cray.

As of Wednesday afternoon, no criminal charges have been filed against Cara L. Stevens. District Attorney Wade Newell said last month he was still considering whether to file charges in the case.

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