Family remembers young man killed in crash on I-43: “We make bad decisions from time to time”

MILWAUKEE -- A 26-year-old Milwaukee man was killed when the vehicle he was driving landed in a ditch on I-43, and authorities say speed may have been a factor in the crash. His family members and friends gathered Sunday evening, September 3rd to remember the man they say was larger than life.

Cory Polakowski's older sister said Sunday it had been a devastating 24 hours for the family. They're leaning on each other for support, and she said the way her brother died is not a reflection of his life.

Fatal crash on I-43 near 51st Street

"It was a call from my mom in the middle of the night. It was not that long after she got that call from authorities," Jennie Brand said.

Jennie Brand (right)

Officials with the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office said around 9:30 p.m. on September 1st, deputies responded to the scene of the crash on I-43 EB at South 51st Street after a vehicle plunged into the ditch. Several good Samaritans tried to help Polakowski, who was unresponsive behind the wheel.

Officials with the Greenfield Fire Department had to remove him from his vehicle.

A photo released shortly after the crash shows extensive damage to the vehicle.

Polakowski died at the scene.

His sister said there was no one quite like her brother.

Fatal crash on I-43 near 51st Street

"He was definitely a character and I would say the best term for him was that he was a gentle giant," Brand said.

Witnesses told deputies Polakowski was traveling at a high rate of speed while passing other vehicles, and it's alleged that he abruptly changed lanes and lost control of his vehicle.

Brand said the family is aware speed may have played a factor.

"We make bad decisions from time to time. Some of them, like in Cory's circumstances, it dictated a lot," Brand said.

At the vigil Sunday evening, purple balloons were released, as purple was Polakowski's favorite color.

Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office

The Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office continues to investigate this crash.