BLACK RIVER FALLS — It took a jury about two hours Friday morning to find a La Crosse man guilty of killing a tow truck operator from Osseo while he attended a disabled vehicle on Interstate 94 last year.
Steven E. Dolan, 51, was found guilty by a Jackson County Court jury of homicide by negligent operation of a vehicle on Oct. 20, 2014, in the death of 38-year-old Nathan E. Walsh.
No sentencing date has been scheduled for Dolan, who faces a maximum penalty of five years in prison. The trial lasted three days, with the defense presenting no witnesses.
Authorities said Dolan was driving a 2004 Chevrolet Silverado 2500 just above the 65 mph speed limit when the truck crossed the fog line and hit Walsh and his tow truck about three miles east of Osseo in the westbound lanes of Interstate 94.
The crash was reported at 8:21 a.m. Walsh, an experienced and safety-conscious tow truck operator, was pronounced dead at the scene.
Dolan’s truck hit Walsh and sideswiped the tow truck, which was parked in front of the SUV that was stopped along a guardrail. Dolan was forced to stop at the scene as his right front tire was ripped from the truck after the collision. His son, Matthew E. Dolan, 27, of Elk Mound, was a passenger and asleep in the truck at the time of the crash.
After the trial, Jackson County District Attorney Gerald Fox said: “Tow truck operators, cops, first-responders, firefighters and road construction workers, all put their safety in jeopardy daily to do what they do to help us, rescue us, keep us safe or improve our infrastructure. Nate Walsh was one of those guys who regularly put himself at risk to help people, and due to the inexcusable neglect of Mr. Dolan, he lost his life.
“Nothing my investigative team or I did in this case will bring him back to his wife and kids, but at least we were able to get some measure of justice for his family, and hold Mr. Dolan accountable for his disastrous failure to pay attention to the road,” Fox said.
In a message to the Leader-Telegram, Walsh’s brother, Darin Walsh of River Falls, praised the effort of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to erect 30 more “move over or slow down” signs along highways, bringing the state total to 41.
“Nothing will bring Nate back, but continued awareness might save a life,” Darin Walsh said.