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Records show woman killed in crash involving Wisconsin lawmaker was driving 100 mph

Records obtained by Ashland Daily Press shows woman had a vape pen with a psychoactive substance

Sen. Bewley gestures as she speaks.
Senate Minority Leader Janet Bewley speaks on the floor Wednesday, June 9, 2021, at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, Wis. Angela Major/WPR

A Pennsylvania woman killed in a crash involving State Senate Minority Leader Janet Bewley was driving at 100 mph just before the collision, according to records obtained by the Ashland Daily Press.

The paper reported records from the Wisconsin State Patrol show Alyssa Ortman, 27, was driving 55 mph over the speed limit before the crash that killed Ortman and her 5-year-old daughter Khaleesi Fink. Bewley drove one of three cars involved in the collision that took place July 22 on Highway 2 near Ashland.

Bewley, 70, was pulling out of a parking area at Ashland’s Maslowski Beach when Ortman struck the lawmaker before Ortman’s car spun across the highway and was struck by another vehicle driven by 45-year-old Jodi Munson.

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Records show police found a vape pen with Delta-8 THC. It’s a psychoactive substance found in the Cannabis sativa plant that yields both marijuana and hemp, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

Ortman and her daughter sustained fatal injuries from the crash while Bewley and Munson were transported to a nearby hospital for treatment. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported one of its interns was on the phone with Bewley at the time of the crash. The paper’s reporting intern Ben Baker said Bewley told him she had cataract eye surgery the day before.

The Daily Press reports Bewley told police she was speaking on a hands-free phone at the time of the crash and that her eyesight was fine. In a statement, a representative from Bewley’s office said, “This has been a heartbreaking event for the community. Our thoughts and prayers continue to be focused on the individuals involved, their families and their loved ones. Out of respect for their privacy, our office will be not be commenting further at this time.”

The father of the girl who died in the crash filed a wrongful death lawsuit against Bewley on Oct. 14. Ashland County District Attorney David Meaney said he’s reviewing the crash report and results of the investigation, adding there’s no timeline for when he’ll decide whether to file charges.