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Two Chicago-area senior citizens were killed Dec. 17 after their car was hit by an alleged drunk driver in eastern Wisconsin, according to news reports.

Life-long friends David Rosol, 82, and Hazel De Witt, 83, of La Grange, IL, were struck at 10:45 p.m. near Shiocton in Outagamie County. The pair had been visiting family friends in the Green Bay area.

Joseph Konetzke, 57, of Neenah, WI, was driving north on County Highway M in the Town of Bovina when he ran a stop sign. His SUV hit the couple’s car as they traveled west on Highway 54.

All three were transported to Theda Care Medical Center in New London.  Rosol and DeWitt were pronounced dead on arrival, and Konetzke was treated for non-life threatening injuries.

The county sheriff’s office has requested the district attorney to charge Konetzke with Homicide by Intoxicated Use of a Motor Vehicle.

On Dec. 18, a third Operating While Intoxicated (OWI) charge was filed against Konetzke stemming from a Dec. 2 incident in Winnebago County. He also was arrested for drunk driving in Neenah on Nov. 21. He also had a drunk-driving conviction in 2001.

There have been 21 people killed in crashes in Outagamie County this year, according to the sheriff’s office. Of the 19 fatal crashes in the county, six involved alcohol and one involved drugs.

police tape at scene of an auto collisionAlcohol offenses prevalent in WI

The number and rate of alcohol-related crashes have decreased over the past five years in Wisconsin, yet alcohol remains the single greatest contributing factor in fatal collisions.

According to a report by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, in the five years previous to 2015:

  • There were 5,174 alcohol-related crashes in Wisconsin.
  • An average of one person was killed or injured in an alcohol-related collision every 2.9 hours on Wisconsin roadways.
  • Alcohol-related crashes in Wisconsin accounted for 4.3% of all crashes.

10,000 lives lost in U.S. yearly

Almost 29 people in the United States die daily in alcohol-impaired vehicle crashes, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. That’s one person every 50 minutes in 2016.

Drunk-driving fatalities have fallen by a third in the past three decades, but drunk-driving crashes still claim more than 10,000 lives per year.