Teens who died in Dodge County crash at 'problematic' intersection identified by Madison area schools

Luis Gamillo and Erik Gamillo, two brothers, and another schoolmate, Alix Hernandez, died in a crash in Dodge County.
Luis Gamillo and Erik Gamillo, two brothers, and another schoolmate, Alix Hernandez, died in a crash in Dodge County.

Four current or former students of Madison area high schools died in a crash in Dodge County in the early morning hours on Memorial Day.

Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt is calling on the Wisconsin Department of Transportation to approve changes to the intersection that would make it more safe. The agency says they have taken measures and will implement new ones as a result of this crash.

Monday's crash happened at about 4 a.m. at the intersection of County Highway TT and State Highway 16/60 in the town of Elba, about 3 miles east of Columbus.

Schmidt said an initial investigation found that a pickup truck was traveling north on Highway TT when it failed to stop at a stop sign and a semitractor without trailer, traveling east on Highway 16, struck the pickup truck.

Three teenagers died at the scene, while another teen died at a hospital. They have been identified as Luis Gamillo, 19, of Sun Prairie; Alix Hernandez, 18, of Fall River; Erik Gamillo Caldaza, 17, of Sun Prairie; and Ivan Herrera, 16, of Sun Prairie. An 18-year-old Madison woman was hospitalized with serious injuries.

The driver of the semi, a 57-year-old La Farge man, was treated for minor injuries and released from the hospital, Schmidt said.

Teens from Madison area high schools; two were brothers

Two school districts in Dane County provided statements this week identifying the teens as current or former students.

The Madison Metropolitan School District confirmed Herrera was a student at Robert M. La Follette High School and the 18-year-old Madison woman is also a student. Family for Herrera couldn't be reached Tuesday.

The Sun Prairie Area School District sent an email to students and parents Monday night. "It is with deep sorrow that we inform you about a recent loss to our school community. Messages such as this are very difficult to share," the statement states.

Erik Gamillo Calzada was a junior at Sun Prairie East High School. He died alongside his brother, Luis, and Alix Hernandez, who were both 2023 graduates of the school. The district said resources are available to students who are having a hard time dealing with the tragedy.

A GoFundMe page was started to help cover funeral expenses for the Gamillo brothers. Jimena Balderas Gamillo said she is a cousin of the brothers. She wrote on the page that the brothers "unfortunately joined their father in heaven yesterday."

Luis Gamillo and Erik Gamillo died in a crash in Dodge County.
Luis Gamillo and Erik Gamillo died in a crash in Dodge County.

"My cousins (were) the most caring and (funniest) souls in the world and they where taken way too soon," she added.

A separate GoFundMe page was started by a friend for Hernandez.

Alix Hernandez, 18, of Fall River died in a crash in Dodge County.
Alix Hernandez, 18, of Fall River died in a crash in Dodge County.

'Problematic' intersection that is controlled by Wisconsin DOT

Schmidt said in the last 10 years there have been nine prior crashes at the intersection. Five were property damage only, two had suspected minor injury crashes, two were suspected major injury crashes, and one was a fatal crash where two people died.

The Dodge County Highway Department and the Dodge County Traffic Safety Committee studied the intersection and made recommendations to the Wisconsin DOT, according to Schmidt.

"Unfortunately, Dodge County has no control over safety improvements at state intersections," a statement from the Dodge County Sheriff's Office states.

Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt
Dodge County Sheriff Dale Schmidt

"While numerous safety enhancements have been requested at this intersection due to it being problematic, Wisconsin DOT has not approved the requests."

The sheriff's office suggests flashing lights on the stop signs and reflectors, among other changes, that would help "grab the attention of drivers." Dodge County will continue to make recommendations "in the future in hopes of mitigating further tragedies," a statement states.

Wisconsin DOT to make changes

The Wisconsin DOT said in a statement Tuesday that the agency took a number of actions to address that stretch of highway and will be taking new measures immediately.

The department doubled the number of stop signs on Highway TT near the intersection with Highway 16/Highway 60 in 2020, the agency said.

The DOT is also going to take "interim safety measures that can be implemented at the location at the earliest opportunity." The interim improvements will be in place until an upcoming construction project, currently in the planning phase, is performed to reconstruct the intersection.

"We express condolences to the loved ones of those who lost their lives," the agency said. "Safety is our department’s top priority and any life lost on Wisconsin roads is unacceptable."

This article originally appeared on Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Teens who died in Dodge County crash at 'problematic' crossing ID'd