A Marshall teen died Friday morning as the result of an automobile accident.
According to the Dane County Medical Examiner’s Office, Benjamin Chadwick, 16, died as the result of injuries sustained in the two-vehicle crash.
Capt. Corey Quinn of Sun Prairie Fire & Rescue said at approximately 6:55 a.m. on Friday, July 2 department personnel responded along with Dane County Sheriff and Marshall Fire/EMS to a motor vehicle accident in the Town of Sun Prairie.
Quinn said first arriving fire units found a two-vehicle crash involving a full-size pickup truck. The truck had struck the driver’s side of a mid-sized sedan head-on at the intersection of Ridge Road and West Medina Road.
Quinn said the truck was presumed to be traveling north on Ridge Road at the time of the collision.
Dane County Sheriff’s Lt. Ira Simpson said the preliminary investigation indicates a Chevy Impala driven by Chadwick, with a total of three occupants, was traveling westbound on West Medina Road, when the Impala failed to stop at the stop sign.
Simpson said the car struck a Ford F-250, which was traveling northbound on Ridge Road.
The driver of the sedan was pinned in his vehicle and required extrication by Sun Prairie Fire units. Chadwick was pronounced deceased on the scene.
The two other passengers in the Impala and the driver/sole occupant of the F-250 were uninjured.
All parties involved were wearing seat belts, according to Simpson.
A funeral for Chadwick is scheduled for Thursday, July 8 at the Marshall High School with services at noon. A visitation was held at the high school on Wednesday, July 7 from 4-8 p.m. and again on Thursday from 10 a.m. until the time of the service.‘Everybody knows Ben’
Chadwick, who had just completed his sophomore year at Marshall High School, was a member of the track and field team and very active in the district’s FFA program; he had recently been elected to serve as the Marshall FFA Chapter President for the upcoming school year.
FFA Advisor and district agri-science teacher Paula Bakken said Chadwick was outgoing and lived life to the fullest. As a member of the organization, Chadwick enjoyed events where he could share his love of agriculture and animals with others, especially younger children, she said. Additionally, Chadwick enjoyed attending FFA events where he could meet other people from around the state.
“He loved meeting people no matter where he went, whether that was an FFA event, a cattle show, a track meet, or watching a softball game,” Bakken said. “He was passionate about, and very proud of, his cattle herd. He worked to make breeding and management decisions and network with other leaders in the cattle industry to learn all that he could about showing and preparing his cattle.
“Ben’s enthusiasm, contagious smile, friendly personality, sincere concern for others, and sassy humor will be greatly missed.”
Stoughton Fair Board President Chris Quam had a personal connection to the teenager. When Quam was a youth dairy exhibitor, Chadwick’s dad, John, was showing steer. Quam’s daughter attends school in Marshall and was one of the teenager’s classmates and friends. Additionally, Quam’s brother-in-law is a cousin to Chadwick’s parents.
“Two or three weeks ago we were watching my daughter play softball and Ben and his friends sit in the outfield; Ben’s out there laughing and razzing the girls and just supporting his friends,” Quam said.
“There was never a dull moment with Ben, always quirky and smiling,” he said. “I asked his dad if there was anything he wanted me to say about Ben and he said, ‘Just, everybody knows Ben. Ben is Ben.’ He just let’s everything roll and a great kid.”
Fair community rallies around family
Just hours after the accident, the Stoughton Fair announced it would be auctioning the steer Chadwick had been showing at the event with proceeds going to his family. The Marshall teenager had been showing at the fair during the days prior to the accident and less than 24 hours early, had been crowned reserve champion in open class beef.
Quam said originally, the steer was to be auctioned off at the Dane County Fair but he made the request to have the steer auctioned at the Stoughton Fair. As soon as the Quam learned the cow could be sold at the fair, “word got out.”
“The quick turnaround was just going with the heart, we wanted to do something and this is what we came up with,” he said.
Chadwick’s steer was auctioned twice – the first time the winning bid of $14/lb. was bought by Mid-State Equipment, where John Chadwick is employed.
“Then, a pretty amazing thing happened,” Quam said. “Mid-State turned around and said ‘Sell it again.’ They pretty much gave (the steer) back to the family to sell it again.”
The second winning bid of $10/lb. was put forward by Elizabeth Rake, a family friend and former fair exhibitor.
Once the steer was auctioned, the Stoughton Fair accepted donations through a paddle sale. Quam said more than $80,000 was collected just on Saturday.
“That was just amazing; there were so many of Ben’s classmates who were in attendance, Marshall community members who just wanted to come out and support the Chadwicks, it was really special.”
People were also invited to mail financial donations to the Stoughton Fair office, and Quam is anticipating many generous donations to arrive through that method.
Quam said even if he didn’t have a personal connection to Chadwick, the fair would have rallied to support the family.
“This is what fair and agriculture families do for each other and it’s what our fair highlights – for youth growth not necessarily financially but friendships and I’m pretty proud to be part of it.”
Another fundraiser that is going beyond the Stoughton Fair is the Wisconsin Needs Farmers t-shirt sales, which is donating $5 from each shirt sold to the Chadwick family. The Wisconsin Needs Farmers campaign is being conducted by the Midwest Farm Report Radio Network to bring awareness and support to the state’s farmers who have been impacted by COVID-19.
Pam Jahnke, the Farm Director of the Midwest Farm Report Radio Network who is known as the Fabulous Farm Babe, has been using her Facebook page and other platforms to bring awareness to the fundraising efforts for the Chadwick family.
She said when it comes to tragedies befalling the agriculture community –whether it be natural disasters or accidents, the farming and rural community responds in any way it can to help.
“They don’t need to be prompted. They don’t need to be bribed. They just pitch in. That’s exactly what I’m witnessing now. Pure, sincere, heartfelt outpouring to the family,” Jahnke said.
As of Wednesday, July 7 donations to The Friends of Ben Chadwick Memorial Fund can be dropped off at the Marshall or Waterloo branch of Farmers & Merchants Bank.
- Chris Mertes contributed to this story