Those at the Rock County Coroner’s Office are reminding
residents to stay safe through the holiday season. Chief Deputy
Coroner Lou Smit urges people to use caution when handling weapons
or drinking alcohol, and to be mindful of carbon monoxide. Smit
said the holidays are usually busier at his office this time of
year, as drinking and driving as well as domestic violence tends to
With Wisconsin’s new concealed carry law, tens of thousands of
people are applying for a concealed carry permit, and Smit said
many of them may be receiving weapons as gifts this year.
Although there has been a lot of emphasis on not harming one’s
self, Smit stressed more attention needs to be given to making sure
weapons are locked and away from children. Smit said he’s concerned
guns could be left in vehicles with children when their parents go
into facilities not allowing weapons.
He said in 2007, there were 1,520 deaths nationally to those
aged 0-17 from firearms. This past week in Las Vegas, Nev., a
13-year-old girl and a 10-year-old boy were killed by
self-inflicted gun shot wounds that occurred while ‘playing’ with
mom and dad’s firearms at home.
“To date, we have not had a child death related to firearms this
year, but we did have a homicide last year when a child
accidentally shot his father while hunting, so it can and has
happened here,” Smit said.
Smit also encourages those drinking alcohol to get a designated
driver. He said some people make the mistake of driving after
casual drinks with family. Just because alcohol is consumed in
moderation at a family gathering doesn’t mean it won’t push one
over the legal limit of 0.8.
There has been a total of 102 alcohol related traffic deaths in
Rock County from 2005-2010. The good news is the numbers appear to
be going down. Alcohol related traffic deaths for Rock County are
as follows: 2005, 37 deaths; 2006, eight deaths; 2007, five deaths;
2008, 28 deaths; 2009, 18 deaths; and in 2010, six deaths.
“I think the decrease in numbers reflect anti-alcohol driving
education and prevention programs by law enforcement, district
attorney’s office, coroner’s office, and the courts. The decrease
in numbers also reflect the efforts of groups like Mother’s Against
Drunk Driver’s and school programs,” Smit said.
As the weather gets colder, Smit said it’s important to be
mindful of carbon monoxide poisoning. He said there were several
deaths in Rock County last year from carbon monoxide poisoning,
including the death of a husband and wife who left their vehicle
running in the garage in Milton. Fortunately, he said no carbon
monoxide deaths have happened this year and he hopes residents
The Coroner’s Safety Series started last year and is designed to
help prevent death. Public presentations and information are given
on topics such as suicide prevention, drugs and alcohol, child
safety, child abuse, prenatal care, firearm safety, bicycle and
motorcycle helmets and carbon monoxide.