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Driver injured on interstate by falling concrete | News

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Driver injured on interstate by falling concrete
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A 50-year-old Fall River man was critically injured on Tuesday night when a softball-sized piece of concrete crashed through his windshield as he drove north on Interstate 39/90 on Madison's East Side.

SLIDESHOW: See images of interstate falling concrete incident

Dane County sheriff's deputies said they believe the incident happened just before 9 p.m. somewhere between the Beltline and U.S. Highway 151.

The victim, Kevin P. Droz, was driving when the piece of concrete went through his car's windshield and struck his head.

"This is definitely a very unusual situation, and frankly, he's lucky to be alive," said Elise Schaffer, public information officer for the Dane County Sheriff's Office.

Despite suffering critical injuries, Droz kept driving. Sheriff's officials said he possibly stopped several times before he drove himself to a Columbus hospital.

"He eventually he made it to a Columbus hospital, where he was treated, and he was eventually taken by Med Flight to (the University of Wisconsin) Hospital because of the severity of his injuries," Schaffer said.

Droz remains hospitalized Wednesday. A UW Health spokeswoman confirmed that Droz is listed in fair condition.

On Wednesday afternoon, the Sheriff's Office said the state Department of Transportation had determined the piece of concrete didn't fall from a bridge.

A DOT bridge inspector examined three bridges on Wednesday and found no evidence of debris falling from the structures. DOT spokesman Michael Bie said an examination of the debris involved in the incident showed it was inconsistent with concrete from underneath bridge structures.

"At this point, we really can't say how this happened," Schaffer said. "It could be an instance where it fell from an overpass. It could be an instance where somebody threw the cement. It could have come off another vehicle, or maybe it was on the road already and someone kicked it up -- we just can't say at this point."

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Deputies said they would like to know if anyone might have witnessed anyone on the Milwaukee Street, Cottage Grove Road or Buckeye Road bridges over I-39 around 8:50 p.m. Tuesday. They are also looking for drivers who were going northbound on I-39/90 who may have witnessed large pieces of concrete on the road at around that time.

Authorities said anyone with information is asked to call the Dane County Sheriff's Office tips line at 608-284-6900 or the Dane County Communications Center at 608-255-2345.�

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, in 2010, the most recent year statistics are available, 39 people died in crashes that occurred when an object fell or was thrown off a bridge.

Several years ago, John Bowman, of Madison, said he was driving through the Marquette Interchange in Milwaukee when someone threw a chunk of concrete at his car.

"It happened just like that. I had no warning," Bowman recalled. "It turned out it was a large chunk of concrete someone had thrown off the overpass and hit my car."

Bowman said his car was damaged but he wasn't injured in the incident.

"It was just a glancing blow. I think that's what saved me from getting into a very serious accident," he said. "I was furious. It was completely random. It was somebody trying to stir up trouble or cause an accident or cause harm to somebody, and there's simply no reason for that."

The Dane County Sheriff's Office is investigating the incident that injured Droz, and officials said they haven't determined at this point if the concrete that injured Droz was thrown.�

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