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HEARTBREAK: Two very young children will grow up without their parents

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KENOSHA (WITI) -- A Sun Prairie man has died from injuries he sustained during a traffic accident that occurred Thursday night, April 24th on I-94 just north of 38th St. in Kenosha County -- and now, two young children will grow up without their parents.

According to the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Office, authorities were called to the scene around 10:45 p.m. after a minivan struck a semi stopped in traffic on I-94. 

“He’s gasping for air, help him please!” said Maurice McDowell, driver of the semi-truck, in his 911 call for help.

34-year-old Bram Dorresteijn was driving the minivan and sustained severe head injuries. Flight for Life landed on the closed highway and transported him to Froedtert Medical Center. He died on Sunday night, April 27th at the hospital.

Dorresteijn’s wife, 33-year-old Shari Dorresteijn, was the passenger of the minivan and died on scene. Officials say she was not wearing her seatbelt.

The Sun Prairie couple leaves behind a two-year-old son and two-month-old daughter. A fund has been established in the names of the children at First Business Bank. CLICK HERE to learn more about this fund -- and how you can donate.

FOX6 News has learned Shari Dorresteijn was a 1999 graduate of Divine Savior Holy Angels High School in Milwaukee -- where at least one staff member remembers Shari as "one of her favorites."

"You just don't expect somebody that young to die so tragically. Everybody's just devastated. For somebody so full of life and so young and with young children to have such a tragic ending for her and her husband, is really beyond comprehension," Divine Savior Holy Angels Athletic Director Peggy Braun said.

Braun has a picture of Shari Dorresteijn framed in her office.

Braun says Shari Dorresteijn was a high school basketball player who met her husband at the University of Wisconsin-Madison -- where he played soccer.

"It's shocking. I mean, it's unbelievable," Braun said.

According to officials, 40-year-old McDowell from Milwaukee, the semi truck driver, sustained minor neck and shoulder injuries. Following the crash, he submitted to a voluntary blood test.

“He didn’t see where the traffic was stopping and he ran underneath my trailer,” said McDowell in his 911 call.

"Still got lots of questions -- kinda wonder why, why them, you know?" Bram Dorresteijn's brother, Paul Dorresteijn said.

Bram Dorresteijn's family is in the Madison area. They say the couple's young children will be adopted by Shari Dorresteijn's sister, who lives near Milwaukee.

"They will never forget how much they were loved by Bram and Shari," Tessa Dorresteijn said.

Authorities say there is no evidence to suggest Bram Dorresteijn was impaired, however, the cause of the crash is still under investigation.

Following the crash, traffic was diverted for five and a half hours. Both lanes of I-94 were shut down as emergency personnel responded to the wreck.

I-94 in Kenosha County is expanding from three lanes in both directions to four, and has been under construction for years.

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  • Jason

    Horrible way to go and worse yet to have two small children who won’t get to know their parents…praying for the family. I don’t normally post on news articles but these crashes are becoming more frequent and can be prevented…this one is just another case towards the D.O.T. for not requiring stronger semi-trailer ‘bumpers’ so it actually stops a vehicle from going under that trailer…the only real bumper that works on today’s trailers are the trailer tires up to 10 feet from the chest height rear edge of the box (the only part of the vehicle that fits under the trailer is the engine compartment with anything above that line taking full force of the impact first..meaning the people in the front seats get a face full of trailer before their vehicle even slows down). This result will never stop happening if the D.O.T. doesn’t step up to the plate…take example from CANADA who mandated this a long time ago…and force the trucking industry to fix this fatal trailer safety flaw and the government should back this with funding.

    • Dave Schultz

      Ditto Jason. Unfortunately the trucking industry has very well paid lobbyists and lawyers who will fight any more regulation of their industry. It’s the same for everyone. The little guy always carries the load.
      My condolences to the family.

    • Jeff

      I think your comment is stupid!!!!!!!!!!! the trick of driving is not to run into a stopped vehicle…don’
      t blame the semi or the D.O T. stupid comment!!!!!!!

  • Rick

    I don’t mean this to be negative but people today don’t pay attention to driving, they are to busy multitasking! I am sorry for the children but if you want to stop this CONCENTRATE on the road!

    • outshined

      I agree with your comment. They don’t know yet exactly why the driver wasn’t able to stop in time but in order to slam into the back end of a stopped truck in a construction zone a driver would have to be not paying attention and/or going too fast.

    • JH

      I agree with Rick. I think drivers are worse than ever. And horribly irresponsible of the mom to not be wearing a seat belt. At least the kids are young enough where they won’t remember any of this.

      • N

        Fist off,you were not in the car nor did you witness the crash so you have no idea what happened so stop speculating. As far as you calling this victim irresponsible what is wrong with you?! You have no idea who this woman is or anythin/g about her except she just died tragically in a car accident before she had the chance to see her children grow up and thats all you have to say?! Have some respect!! For all you know this woman could have worn her seatbelt everytime she got into a car and forgot to put it on just this once or she took it off before the crash to grab someting in the back seat. Keep in mind these are people’s family and friends you are talking about and they are having a hard enought time as it is to on top of it to see some heartless comments from you.

      • Jill U.

        All I can add is that often the parent in the passenger seat has to take the seatbelt off to reach back and give a child a bottle or snack, or there could have been something else where she had to take her belt off in order to reach back there. I hate to say it, but it happens all the time. It’s incredibly sad that something like this happened to such a young family.

  • KC

    I know this couple personally. I find it hard to believe that Bram wasn’t paying attention. They were a beautiful couple, who just had a baby girl, bought a new house for their growing family less than a month ago. This is so very sad!

    • Terri

      Iam so very sorry for your loss. They look like a lovely couple living the dream. My condolences to you and their family and friends.

    • curious

      Hard to believe he wasnt paying attention? The guy wasn’t a saint, wasn’t perfect. She didn’t have her seat belt on.

      Anybody can make a mistake and unfortunately this was a critical one. Maybe his driving was at fault, maybe not. None of us will likely ever know what happened to cause this. Yes, it’s a sad and tragic event, but please take these people down off the pedestal most of you seem to have put them on.

  • cg

    I drive this area all the time. Sad that this happened, but what I see every day is people that are driving way too fast. Why can’t people just slow down. Accidents like this can be prevented if people would just pay attention and obey the reduced speed limits in the construction zones. Stop placing blame on everything but what it actually is, and that would be human error…..

  • GG

    I agree with the earlier poster. US trucks are inherently dangerous. Canadian and European trucks have mandatory rear safety bumpers.

  • Lone ranger

    Some semi drivers are extremely aggressive they just do 75 mph and tailgate within a few feet or two of people in front of them. People just don’t think that things can go wrong and at those speeds and following too close is a bad combination. My heart goes out to this family and we all know that we have been caught off guard while driving or off in lala land and all of a sudden there is brake lights in front of us. There are no perfect drivers out there and we all make mistakes.

  • Cm

    Lori-My daughter drove through that area just 1 hour prior to the accident. She said the exact same thing, that they shut down a lane with orange barrels with no prior warning that the lane is closed.

    • Joe Blow

      Have you let the police department know this? It could be really important and helpful to the family.

  • A Friend

    I can’t believe all of the pathetic, heartless comments some people have been making here. Have you not an ounce of decency? 2 children have just been orphaned, a wonderful couple is dead, and friends & family are utterly crushed with grief. If you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Smh…

    • Nicole Stielow

      I agree with you totally! I will never understand the negative comments people leave in posts like this! Just terrible! SMH!

    • Nite Rider

      Hey, you are so crushed with grief, but you got the strength to troll an internet news site?

  • Nicole Stielow

    This is really sad! So sad for the 2 young babies and this family! Why do people have to argue about this topic? It is really hard to tell especially at night when traffic is completely stopped. It’s hard to tell if it’s completely stopped or just slowing down! Just my opinion!

  • jason

    Regardless of whether or not it was human error, both father and mother have lost their lifes. Why must people constantly speculate as if they have nnever made a mistake in their lives. All construction areas are dangerous as hell on the freeways especially when they go from 3 lanes down to 1 unexpectantly its not fair to say that Bram mustve not been paying attention as that may not be the case.. yes the semi was stopped but do we know how far along he wae before he saw traffic starting to slow and stop during the merge? No we dont and i know from personal experience that sometimes even when paying full attention areas like that can sneak up on you pretty quickly. I am extremely sorry for this familys loss and even more sorry for the comments made by some of these people who think they know everything.

  • Sam

    Whether or not construction areas on highways can be hazardous (which they can) or if the driver was paying attention (which no one knows), the important point here is that two lives were tragically lost in an unfortunate accident. The tragedy of the situation is even greater because two young children lost their parents. I do not know Shari and Bram, but my deepest condolences go out to their friends and family. Anyone who can speak negatively about this situation truly is pathetic. Show some decency towards the friends and family that are reading this or at a minimum, show some respect for how precious and fleeting life is.

  • curious

    I’m also wondering if the driver wasn’t somehow distracted while driving and simply didn’t notice the truck stopped until the last minute, then too late to avoid it, passenger side hitting the back of the truck to kill passenger instantly and cause critical injury to driver. That seems to make a lot of sense, but is never mentioned in any of the news articles.

    It’s not heartless or tormenting the families, it’s a simple and logical question. “N” doesn’t need to get so hysterical about a logical comment and no one has the right to tell people to stop speculating.

    • A Friend

      Ahem…no one has the right to tell ANY of us to take them off a pedestal, you complete jerk. Speculate all you want, but don’t you DARE tell us to stop sharing stories of how wonderful this couple was, and how hard it is to see them go so soon. Logical enough for you?

      • RJ

        Nobody says you have to stop sharing stories. But these people were only human, and one of them made a tragic mistake.

  • Rose R

    My husband daughter and I were driving in area recently also. Hwy should have patrols working in construction areas for warning. We were caughtin situation where orange barrel rolling around in both lanes. Hadto come to complete stop and lucky no one rear ended. Need patrols to slow traffic. Construction invades too much on traffic flow and also puts workers in danger with no barriers.

Comments are closed.