UPDATE: Cyclist injured in Sunday accident; name releasedThe driver of a motorcycle was injured Sunday afternoon after he lost control on County Road O just north of Hwy. 35 and crashed in a ditch. At 11:30 Monday morning, the Sheriff’s Department identified the driver as Richard Voeller, 48, White Bear Lake, Minn.
The driver of a motorcycle was injured Sunday afternoon after he lost control on County Road O just north of Hwy. 35 and crashed in a ditch.
Pierce County sheriff's deputy Jean Spletstoser said in a news release that the individual was northbound at 4:59 p.m. when the cycle left the road, entered a town of Diamond Bluff ditch and overturned several times, ejecting the operator.
At 11:30 Monday morning, the Sheriff’s Department identified the driver as Richard Voeller, 48, White Bear Lake, Minn. He was transported Sunday by Red Wing Ambulance to Fairview Red Wing Medical Center and was then airlifted to Regions Hospital in St. Paul.
The Ellsworth Fire Department assisted at the scene.
When the accident was first reported, no name, age or gender of the victim was disclosed, apparently in response to the department's interpretation of a new Wisconsin law which took effect Friday, April 27.
Wisconsin Act 283 creates new statutory provisions related to disclosure by public officials, employees, or agencies of personally identifying information of crime victims or witnesses. The law was intended to protect victims and witnesses from improper use of identifiers for purposes unrelated to the proper execution of official public duties.
The case of former Calumet County District Attorney Kenneth Kratz was cited repeatedly as legislators considered the new provision. Kratz allegedly used information in court records to personally contact a woman and send her inappropriate text messages.
Last Thursday, Sheriff Nancy Hove said that once the new law took effect, her department would no longer release names, ages or addresses of people involved in accidents or making complaints to the department as they could turn out to be victims or witnesses who deserve protection under the new rules. She said she was taking the action on the advice of Pierce County Corporation Counsel Brad Lawrence.
When contacted by the Pierce County Herald on Thursday, Lawrence affirmed that position but said he might consider revising it based on subsequent interpretation or guidance offered by the Wisconsin attorney general.
On Friday, Attorney General J. B. Van Hollen issued a memorandum noting that "Act 283 was not intended to preclude law enforcement agencies and other agencies from performing their official duties under the Wisconsin public records law and other applicable laws. The new statutory provisions created by Act 283 do not prohibit law enforcement agencies, prosecutors, or other public agencies from disclosing all personal identifiers of crime victims and witnesses in response to public records requests."
Van Hollen’s memorandum reiterates that privacy, confidentiality, and safety concerns related to victims and witnesses have been and should continue to be carefully considered by records custodians responding to public records requests. These important concerns generally are addressed in case-by-case application of the public records balancing test.