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‘Tragedy times 3:’ Rizzo children speak on their family’s legacy after fatal crash in Bristol

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KENOSHA COUNTY -- Three members of the Rizzo family were killed when their SUV was hit by a speeding truck on Highway 50 on April 5. Those victims contributed more than 100 years to the medical community in Kenosha.

Mary and Vincent Rizzo

Mary and Vincent Rizzo

Those victims were Vincent and Mary Rizzo; Vincent was more commonly known as Dr. Rizzo. He owned a dental practice and had several patients for more than 40 years. Mary Rizzo was remembered as a nurse and loving mother.

"They were the one for each other," said Catherine Koessl, the oldest of four children.

The couple's four children and spouses remembered fondly a trip to Alaska in summer of 2018. The children bought shirts with their parents' early wedding photos on them.

"They called a family meeting and brought us all over to Cathy's house," said  Janet Duemke, their youngest child. "They really wanted to take all of us on on a big trip."

The tragedy was even worse for this family who also lost an uncle; Dr. Michael Rizzo worked at Aurora Medical Center.

"This is a tragedy times three, and we've lost the people that mean the most to us," said Louisa Rizzo, Vince's spouse. "Getting through it is an understatement. We will never get through it."

Vince Rizzo, who shares the same name as his late father, spoke about his dad's "second" family.

"He saw his life as having two families. He had all of us, and then he had all the patients that he saw as a second family," said Vince Rizzo.

"My dad could have retired years ago. We wanted him to retire years ago, but he loves his patients. He loves being a dentist in town," said Catherine Koessl, the eldest child.

Mary Rizzo

Family said Mary Rizzo loved her four grandchildren and was even more excited for two grandchildren on the way.

"She was always very proud of her children -- her sons, her daughters, her grandkids -- and she made us feel that," said Laura Rizzo, John Rizzo's wife.

Michael Rizzo

"Between Mike, Vince and Mary, they have over 140 years of serving the community in medical profession. It's just amazing," said Vince Rizzo.

The family thanked the community for the outpouring of support and said it shows how the whole community is grieving the loss.

"Everyone in this community is realizing what a terrible, terrible tragedy this is," said Louisa Rizzo.

Suspect vehicle involved in fatal crash in Bristol

A fourth family member, Gerald Rizzo, who was in the vehicle that was struck remained in serious but stable condition Monday.

The two-vehicle wreck happened around 6:45 p.m. on Highway 50 (75th Street) near 216th Avenue in the Village of Bristol. According to the Kenosha County Sheriff’s Department, the pickup truck and SUV were both traveling east on Highway 50 when they were involved in the crash.

Authorities said four people inside the SUV (the Rizzo family) needed to be extricated from the vehicle. One was pronounced dead at the scene. Two others were pronounced dead at the hospital.

Suspect vehicle involved in fatal crash in Bristol

The driver and sole occupant of the pickup truck was also hurt in the wreck. Sheriff Beth identified that man as Timothy Vandervere, 40, of Beach Park, Illinois. He was transported to Froedtert Hospital in Milwaukee where he was being treated for his injuries. Upon his release, Vandervere was taken to the Kenosha County Jail.

Suspect vehicle involved in fatal crash in Bristol

Witnesses said the white pickup was driving erratically and at a very high rate of speed prior to the crash -- possibly as fast as 100 miles per hour. The pickup truck rear-ended the SUV as the SUV was travelling eastbound at normal traffic speed.

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