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Lawsuit filed against Wisconsin senator in fatal car crash

Wisconsin Legislature

A Pennsylvania man whose 5-year-old daughter and her mother were killed in a car crash involving the Wisconsin state Senate's minority leader has filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the lawmaker.

Brandon Fink, whose daughter Khaleesi Fink and the girl's 27-year-old mother, Alyssa Ortman, were killed in the July crash, filed the lawsuit Friday in Ashland County (Wisconsin) Circuit Court, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Tuesday. Court documents show that the family lived in Clearfield, Pennsylvania.

The lawsuit, which seeks unspecified damages, names Democratic state Senate Minority Leader Janet Bewley, another driver and three insurance companies as defendants.

Bewley, who represents a state Senate district that covers northwestern Wisconsin, pulled out of a Lake Superior beach entrance in Ashland on July 22 and into the path of a car driven by Ortman, according to police. When Ortman’s car collided with Bewley’s, it spun across Highway 2 and was hit by a vehicle driven by Jodi Munson, 45, of Washburn.

Ortman’s 5-year-old daughter was pronounced dead at the crash scene. Ortman later died at a hospital, according to police.

The Ashland police report, obtained by The Associated Press, says Bewley was distracted by her hands-free mobile phone at the time of the crash. The lawsuit alleges that all three drivers acted negligently.

Bewley's spokesperson, Joey Huey, said the state senator would have no comment.

Ashland County District Attorney David Meany said his office has started receiving law enforcement reports on the crash but that any decision on whether to pursue charges is pending a complete review of the case. It’s unclear how long that might take, he said.

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