A 70-year-old Wisconsin state senator drove her vehicle into the path of an oncoming vehicle on Friday, killing its occupants—a Pennsylvania mother and her young daughter, according to Ashland authorities.

State Sen. Janet Bewley pulled out of the entrance to a Lake Superior beach around midday, police said, colliding with the car driven by 27-year-old Alyssa Ortman. The younger woman’s vehicle spun across the highway, hitting a third car.

Ortman’s 5-year-old daughter was pronounced dead at the scene. Ortman was transported to a nearby hospital, where she later died of her injuries.

Bewley, a Democrat who has served as the state Senate’s minority leader since 2020, was “not seriously injured” in the crash, her office said in a statement released Monday morning. Her involvement in the incident was first reported by KBJR-TV.

“This is a heartbreaking event for the community,” the statement read. “Our thoughts and prayers are focused on the individuals involved, their families and their loved ones.”

In a prearranged Friday afternoon interview with a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel intern, Bewley said she had undergone cataract eye surgery on Thursday. She fell silent a few minutes later, pausing abruptly in the middle of a sentence.

The intern asked if she was OK, the newspaper reported.

“Yeah, I’m OK,” she replied. “This is not a good accident.”

Bewley’s office did not immediately return a request for comment on the Journal Sentinel’s report from The Daily Beast.

“There’s nothing suspected as far as alcohol or foul play or anything,” Bill Hagstrom, the chief of the city’s police department, told the Ashland Daily Press. He added that no charges had yet been filed against anyone involved in the incident.

“We’ll be sitting down with them and going over everything as far as determining how it all actually happened,” Hagstrom told the newspaper.

Bewley, who was elected to the Wisconsin Senate in 2014, announced in February that she would not seek re-election, saying she wanted to spend more time with her family.





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