A wrongful death lawsuit was filed Tuesday against Democratic Senate Minority Leader Janet Bewley (D-Mason) following her involvement in a July fatal car accident that killed a five-year-old girl and her mother. Bewley was not injured in the accident.
The lawsuit was filed in Ashland County on behalf of Brandon Fink, the father and husband of the crash victims, Khaleesi Fink and Alyssa Ortman, 27. The defendants include Bewley, a Washburn woman also involved in the accident and three insurance companies. Fink is seeking $10,000 and a jury trial.
“This is a heartbreaking event for the community. Our thoughts and prayers are focused on the individuals involved, their families and their loved ones,” Bewley’s office said in a July statement in response to the accident. “Senator Bewley, who was not seriously injured in the accident, wants to thank all the dedicated law enforcement and emergency medical personnel who helped in the aftermath of the accident.”
The crash occurred in late July on Highway 2. Bewley pulled out of a Lake Superior beach area into Ortman’s car. Ortman’s car then spun across Highway 2 before colliding with another vehicle. The five-year-old, Khaleesi Fink, was pronounced dead at the scene. Ortman was brought to a nearby hospital where she later died as a result of the injuries from the accident.
According to an Ashland Police Department crash report, Bewley was distracted with her “hands-free mobile phone” during the crash. Bewley was on the phone with a reporting intern for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel completing a pre-arranged interview at the time of the crash.
The MJS intern said Bewley mentioned she had eye surgery the day prior. While on the phone with the intern, Bewley was asked by the intern if she was alright after the crash to which she responded "Yeah, I'm OK. This is not a good accident."
The Ashland Police Department turned over all further investigations regarding the crash to Ashland County District Attorney David Meany. Meany is currently reviewing the reports from the investigation to determine if the charges will be filed.
Bewley, 70, has been in the state senate since 2015 and is not seeking re-election this year. She announced this decision in February.