I am heart sick tonight. It is a big weight in my chest, down to my stomach. I am heart sick over the whole budget bill — in particular the part about medical assistance for the poor and the slashing of funding for schools. I might just have to home school my girls to ensure that they get some kind of an education. I don’t know what will happen with my parents and family who depend on Badgercare for their well being and their children. I just can’t believe that i am surrounded by such selfish people.

Speaking of selfish people, that is the main cause of my ailment. Last night, before bed I read a flippant sneer of an email from the District Attorney of Clark County, Darwin Zweig implying that the 17 year old girl with exemplary record has an underdeveloped brain due to her age and her future should not be marred by such a the tragic accident of my father. I thought long and hard today about how I would present this, but really there is no better way than the facts. The full facts. Before you read this, I need to emphasize, that Danea C. Zeigle to this date has not been charged with so much as a traffic ticket, had her license taken away or been cited in any regard. This girl now has a new vehicle to drive around in — though one can only hope that she has stopped texting while speeding. Which, incidentally, is the most probably cause of death according to the investigation report.

The standard of course is a high degree of negligence beyond a reasonable doubt. I knew Doug to some extent. Knew him when he had his struggles with alcohol but I also left him on a jury panel and he was the foreperson on a jury trial I had many years ago. Everyone agrees his death is tragic. Aside from what information there may be, which, as I’ve indicated, I will review this weekend, I have to consider whether it would add to the overall tragedy to saddle an otherwise exemplary young lady who has not yet graduated from high school with a felony that may rule/ruin her for the rest of her life. It’s pretty well known that that part of the brain that makes for good judgment or decision making is not fully developed or mature until about 25 or 26. I know all the arguments as well. I’ve been at this for over 30 years. It goes something like the girl’s future should not be a factor because Doug has no life at all and so on. I understand all that. I’m assuming your interest is in pursuing a civil suit.

I am… furious, shocked, outraged, sad, appalled, hurt, angry, disgusted — but most of all sad that this can and is still happening.

For the record, my father had not had any alcohol for over 25 years. Second, how does he know this girl is “exemplary”, unless he knows her. Third, why is going out on a limb for her….why he is so unprofessional regarding this matter? Fourth, why aren’t licenses issued when people are 25 or 26 when their brains are “fully developed or mature”. Fifth — so anyone under the age of 26 can get away with murder because they are biologically underdeveloped? Lastly, what about the lives of those she affected — my brothers and I, his grandchildren, friends and family. He was a respected elder and one of the last living fluent speakers of the Ho Chunk language – gone.


The thing of it is, we don’t want revenge…but we do want justice. Nothing happening to this girl is, just …. not just.

7 thoughts on “Heartsick

  1. Lori

    This is the same man who crucified a young truck driver for accidently crashing into a car causing a fatality, because he reached for a twinkie on the seat beside him. The driver was filled with remorse, many people in the community spoke on his behalf and that turd Zwieg went on and on about how he had to pay for his crime, an example had to be made, etc. etc. I don’t recall the actual sentence, but he was going to a federal penitenery for Three years, for reaching for a twinkie. He was not drunk, on drugs, just driving and hungry and oops there was the car, he was not speeding or texting. Zweig is a KNOWN pal of her dads. That is conflict of interest. The decision should not be made by him or anyone in his office. That would be Conflict of Interest, and that would be an Ethics Violation. I do not hate that girl. Not like my sister does.But at this point, all the killer has learned from this is ‘hey I can murder someone with my car and my mommy and daddy and the DA will fix it for me.’ Sounds like she’s getting a good foundation for a job in politics. I wonder what her underdeveloped mind puts out for grade score averages. Good schools don’t take felons. All the information is there, we just need to find it. I detest the “old boy network” they’ve got going on in the courthouse. I hated it when I was a reporter and I hate it much worse now. Doug was my dearest friend. He’s been sober over 30 years, he was a much welcomed face in his community and a dear beloved friend, father, uncle and grandpa. We are all hurt and all angry and someone has to pay for that, I think Zweig should be investigated for ethics violations and when found quility, he should suffer the results of his actions and his non actions. She blatanly and negligently took Doug away from us when none of us were ready for him to go. I wanted to get back togther with him and spend the rest of his life with him. I adored the new improved mellowed out version of your dad. I’m missing him hard core. We should have the opportunity to sit across from her and her creepy negligent parents and tell them who we feel about this. Your dad had rights to. He had the right to LIVE, to LAUGH, to share his stories with us. He had been sober for so long, he had many many people he supported in their own recovery. He was passionate about the language classes he was teaching. He loves all his kids and grandkids and friends so close we called him family. He was stolen from us.If any of us had ran over that girl, no matter how young or underdeveloped, we would be charged because we are not Zweigs buddy’s kid. Someone needs to look in to ethics violation and conflict of interest specifically. It looks like because your dad was once a drunk, many years ago, that he deserved to die so the pretty little rick girl can get into a good college by not being a felon. I would sentence her to fines, insist on community service for the hochunks, since she killed an elder on the tradional court. He died on Indian land. The tribe should get fired up about. We should get every friend, relative and ho chunk member together and go have a chat with that little weaseal with the hitler mustache and say Oh just cause he was an old ass used to be drunk Indian he deserves to die a few feet from his HOME just so she can continue to drive as fast as she wants and text as much as she wants? She allegedly bragged to her friends at school a few weeks ago that she wasn;t getting anything out of it because her dad is friends with the DA. Looks to me like she’s happy she got away with it while we are only left to mourn someone who was beloved to us. Zwieg don’t care about hearts and flowers and teenage girls. He cares about convictions and being on the news. This is an opportunity for him to come out strong and hard about the dangers of texting and driving fast, All the years I covered stories there at the newpaper, Zwieg never went hearts and flowers, sunshine and butterflies on ANY defendant, He only cared about the cases he though he could win. He knows he could win this one, he just doesn’t want to. He is a public servant. That is something that can be taken away from him if he has abused his authority, knowingly making decisions on a case in which he has a conflict of interest. I am also heartsick, have been for many months. I know Zweig and this is exactly what I expected him to do. Being right sometimes sucks more than being wrong.

  2. Whitney

    I know you don’t know me….I happened to come across your blog a few years ago through Rebekah and I’ve been reading along for the simple reason that I’m part Native American and I thought it was interesting to read another ones struggle with their heritage and not losing it. I can’t help but read this post and get angry, not with you, but this so called ‘justice’ that has been dealt you. I myself am only 22 but I knew the difference between right and wrong at 17. Just because that part of my brain wasn’t fully developed didn’t change that. I am absolutely furious that this is happening to you and it is something that I think should NOT be allowed. I don’t think the past history of either person should be involved, just the incident itself, the fact that your father is no longer with you and this girl is the one who caused that. A girl who was negligent enough to be texting while driving and should pay for that negligence so that it doesn’t happen again in the future. I will be considering sending this D.A. an email myself about my disappointment in what their sense of justice is.

  3. R

    Hi Laura,

    I am so, so sorry. That’s just aweful. Yeah there should be consequences to texting while speeding, and there especially should be consequences for killing someone! If they brain isn’t fully developed until 25 then fine, no one under the age of 25 should be allowed to drive then. Or why do we give speeding tickets to anyone under the age of 25? Disgusting.

    Even my 7 year old knows responsibility–you spill something, you clean it up, etc.

    And I agree with the home-schooling thing, btw. Not that I will, but god. . . we’re going to raise a nation of idiots at this rate. (waiting for the comments that we’re already there)

  4. Jessie

    Ugh. The fact is, the only reason she is exemplary at all is because she is 17. She’s only been driving for a year and has only had a year to take stupid risks and so far had not been caught. And why does your dad have to be punished for all eternity for his “crime” of alcohol use, but she not be accountable for murder? Because she’s alive and young and he was elderly and dead? She was texting and driving, that in itself has been against the law for quite some time. When I was just starting to drive, I would race with people on the back roads, pass on hills and was a danger to myself and others. I was never caught, but I know if I killed someone I would deserve punishment to the full extent of the law. I think back on the shit I had done and just shiver. I was so stupid and luckily, I was caught going 90 in a 55 and was slapped a huge ticket and I sobered up fast before I hurt anyone. I was lucky, just like she is lucky she had not been caught until now. She should answer to no less than what is expected of you and your family, as well as the law despite her age and innocence. She is exemplary because she was LUCKY not because she was careful or attentive. Does he honestly think that this was her first texting and driving incident? WTF? Lastly, I have to add that in driving class, they make it very clear that speeding is wrong, they make it very clear that texting while speeding is wrong. She CHOSE not to follow the rules. Your dad had no choices in this matter. She got all the choices and she gets off without a hitch? Fuck that.

  5. Hilary

    Laura, I was so hoping that wouldn’t be the case. It must be bringing back lots of angry feelings for you. That sucks. I’m just surprised that they wouldn’t try to remove sentimentality from it and look at it this way: What is the best thing for everyone? That she doesn’t do this again. That her friends and family and everyone in the whole town think twice about being so stupid. That everyone else is safe. How do we know she won’t keep driving like an idiot? I read just the other day about a teenager going to jail for drunk driving–how is this any different? Ugh. I’m sorry, Laura.

  6. Carrie Moffett

    What the hell? Did the DA think making mention of your father’s past problems would somehow be endearing?
    The portion you posted was overall terribly written by someone who should

    No one would disagree that the accident was tragic, but he does not even mention that it easily could have been prevented if only the kid had one hair filled with sense on her head. It is simple, do not drive without looking at the road.

    The DA does not have to ruin her life, but he does need to do his duty and not look the other way because of her age.

    I know I am not saying anything that you do not know already, but I just wanted you to know that you have my support.

  7. Carrie Moffett

    oops! I stopped mid sentence on the second line “The portion you posted was overall terribly written by someone who should really know how to represent himself in a less smarmy manner.”

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