Suspect in Friday’s I-39 accidents held on $20K cash

By Brandi Makuski

A man suspected of causing multiple vehicle crashes on both sides of the I-39 median on Friday has been ordered held on $20,000 cash bond.

Portage County Assistant District Attorney Kristian Mukoski said Joshua Cisewski, 37 of Stockton, lost control of his vehicle shortly after 6 p.m. while traveling south on I-39 just north of the County Hwy. HH ramp, crossing the median into the northbound lanes and rolling his mother’s Volkswagen Jetta.

“The crash spurred a series of other crashes and injuries to many drivers, including one patient that was med-flighted and partially paralyzed,” Mukoski said.

After Cisewski’s vehicle landed on its roof, he reportedly fled the scene on foot, throwing alcohol containers as he ran. Law enforcement later determined the vehicle belonged to Cisewski’s mother, who lives in Custer, and he’d taken it without permission.

Mukoski said at least five empty bottles of vodka were found in the vehicle Cisewski was driving.

The initial crash caused at least three other vehicles in northbound lanes to collide; at least four vehicles in the southbound lanes also crashed after drivers began to slow and observe the chaos on the other side of the median, according to Stevens Point Fire Lt. Tracy Aldrich. The crashes involved over a dozen people and sent three to the hospital, one via life flight who is expected to survive.

Portage Co. deputies and K9 units conducted a search of the crash scene in an attempt to locate Cisewski with no luck.

Cisewski was located at 9:15 p.m. after a security guard at the nearby AIG building called the police to report a suspicious man hiding in the trees on the property.

Cisewski appeared heavily intoxicated and was reportedly uncooperative when officers arrived, refusing both a field sobriety test and breathalyzer.

“He was so intoxicated he needed the assistance of two officers to stand up and walk,” Mukoski said.

Charges against Cisewski include operating while intoxicated, third offense, OWI causing great bodily harm, OWI causing injury, operating a motor vehicle without owner’s consent, bail jumping, and four outstanding warrants among other criminal and traffic charges.

He returns to court Dec. 3.