Driver collides with mattress on side of I-94; her father says she’s lucky to be alive

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MILWAUKEE -- A driver collided with a mattress left along I-94 on Saturday night, February 27th and what happened next you have to see to believe. The young woman's father says it's a miracle she survived.

It happened on I-94 near College Avenue.

The young woman who survived the crash wants the person who lost the mattress to take some responsibility for what happened to her.

"It was terrifying. I saw something in the road. I thought it was a shadow at first," Brooke Cleven said.

When you see images of the wreck, you realize how amazing it is that Cleven walked away from her totaled vehicle.

21-year-old Brooke Cleven hit mattress on I-94 at College Avenue

21-year-old Brooke Cleven hit mattress on I-94 at College Avenue

She says the pain kicked in as soon as the adrenaline wore off.

"My whole left leg hurts. The left side of my back hurts," Cleven said.

Brooke Cleven

Brooke Cleven

Cleven is a senior at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design (MIAD) -- with a passion for woodworking. She was traveling from Milwaukee home to Sturtevant on I-94 on Saturday night in her 2006 Chevy Cobalt.

Cleven was in the far left lane near the College Avenue exit, and by the time she realized what was in front of her, it was too late.

"I just closed my eyes and hoped for the best," Cleven said.

"The mattress grabbed the rear tire and flipped the car right over," Scott Cleven said.

A box spring was also discovered nearby.

21-year-old Brooke Cleven hit mattress on I-94 at College Avenue

21-year-old Brooke Cleven hit mattress on I-94 at College Avenue

Scott Cleven, Brooke's father, says it's a miracle his daughter survived.

Scott Cleven

Scott Cleven

Doctors say her seat belt saved her life.

Now, the family is looking for answers.

"I`m sure there is someone who saw something. Someone must know they lost their mattress and box spring. I just hope they come forward," Scott Cleven said.

21-year-old Brooke Cleven hit mattress on I-94 at College Avenue

21-year-old Brooke Cleven hit mattress on I-94 at College Avenue

Brooke Cleven says other motorists stopped to help her -- some even snapping photos of the car.

Cleven had to crawl out of a broken passenger side window -- all because of a crash that could've been avoided.

"Make sure you properly strap down anything that you are carrying," Brooke Cleven said.

Cleven says the Milwaukee County Sheriff's Office is investigating.

21-year-old Brooke Cleven hit mattress on I-94 at College Avenue

21-year-old Brooke Cleven hit mattress on I-94 at College Avenue

If you have any information regarding this crash, you're asked to give them a call.

Cleven's car is totaled -- so she's not sure how she'll be able to get to school and work, considering her long commute.


  • Alyssa

    I feel the pain and the unknown answers this family is going through. On Friday at 6pm on I 43 north I was driving home from work, when I saw this dark object. I was not sure if it was a deer or something else. After not being able to respond fast enough I saw it was a picnic table that was a dark brown/black. The owner was not around and the officers were surprised I walked away with no injury. People need to be more careful when driving with objects strapped to their vehicles. The fact is people’s lives can be taken in moments from people not being responsible. I really hope someone comes forward for you and me.

  • Kathryn Stephens

    I saw a mattress on I94 on my way to Racine from Milwaukee around 6pm tonight. Was the mattress not picked up after the accident or is this another incident?

    • SA

      I saw it when I drove by around noon today. Whatever was left of the mattress was there along with the debris from the accident (car parts and glass). Why??

      • SA

        How can you not know you lost a mattress/box spring you are transporting? Glad this young lady is OK, she is very, very lucky.

    • terra

      mattress was from that car crash. we saw the car flipped over, like in the pictures around 7 pm saturday night and sunday around 4:30pm the debris were still there….. are they just trying to cause another accident? pick up the mattress and box spring we dont need a another crash….. cannot believe it was still in the same spot…. 24 hours later and that driving lane was open.. mattress and box spring are inches away from where the cars are driving…

  • Scott

    Can somebody please answer me as to why that same damn mattress is still laying in that location. Yes Kathryn, I went through that same location around 5pm. today heading south and that mangled mattress and box spring was still laying there along side the median. WTH!!! I had no idea it was involved in this tragic accident until now. Who knows how long this damn mattress was even sitting there until something unfortunate like this had to happen. What if it killed this young lady or even kills somebody else in the mean time because the DOT has yet to clean it up. At the time, I was considering calling 911 about the mess but I see now, it would have been a waste of my time. I absolutely agree that the people who lost it should be held accountable but I also think that the county should hold some kind of responsibility considering the thing is still sitting there after knowledge of what had happened.

    • Malai

      I’m so happy she survived, although, I must admit that this situation is a little strange. I’m still wondering how the mattress ended up on top of her car? In all honesty, I don’t think the people that left the mattress will come forward.

      • Dale

        They won’t come forward, and it only ended up on top of her car, after it ended up under her car, and flipped her over. However she was right by the big two Furniture stores in town. All they need to do is see who bought that particular mattress around the same time of the accident. Shouldn’t be too hard to find the idiot(s) who can’t tie a mattress and box spring down right.

  • A yooper

    If the mattress appeared to be new it certainly would have been evidence to find source. Brand & manufacturing data would be able to trace it to the vendor. I have seen new mattresses wrapped in plastic on roof tops of sedans tied on with cheap nylon cord. People don’t realize that due to the shape of the car the mattress becomes a wing held down with cheap rope at 60 mph. Not hard to figure what’s next. At any rate, improperly secured cargo is a real threat on the highway.

  • Jacob Noll

    I saw a red pick up truck with a new mattress and box-spring mattress on wednesday the 24th in Sturtevant. Maybe nothing or maybe something if they were going to bring it to milwaukee then someone didnt need it, brings it back and all the time in the truck it could become loose. (Or possibly repeated removal of mattresses they got lazy one of the times) Truck had big decals on back saying “Tough Ram” Looked newish (2010^+) Hope this information helps. To my recollection the mattress is the same and I dont see pictures of the boxspring but i remember it being navy blue. (Or some darker shade)

  • A yooper

    MR. Cole, you are so right. Problem being 75 % of the others on the roads are so poorly educated on driving. when I think back I took drivers ed in high school. a real teacher doing it. I think that I may have even gotten credits. Now we have people teaching kids how to drive for $9.00 hr. Our school systems can provide so many sports and other BS but not one of the most important skills, driving. As a kid I went to the Ozaukee Co. fair. Back in the day I think it was the Sheriff’s Dept. that “displayed a car wreck of a horrendous crash with fatalities. Now it is so “politically” correct to show results of bad driving. Those memories are still in my mind.

  • candlelite2000

    I hope that the county has the good sense to get that thing off the highway before the snow falls. If anyone gets injured the county will have a law suite. They should make sure the responding officers get dragged into it too. They should have called the city and waited until it was removed.

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