Wrongful death suit filed in fatal crash involving Sen. Janet Bewley

More then $10,000 in damages is sought for the death of a 5-year-old girl.

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ASHLAND — A wrongful death suit has been filed in Ashland County Circuit Court against Sen. Janet Bewley, D-Mason, Jodi Munson of Washburn and three insurance companies in response to a fatal July 22 traffic crash that killed Alyssa Ortman, 27, of Clearfield, Pennsylvania, and her 5-year-old daughter, Khalessi Fink.

Janet Bewley
Janet Bewley.
Steve Kuchera / Duluth News Tribune
Reconstructing fatal crash in Ashland could take weeks

The civil suit was filed Friday, Oct. 14, by the child’s father, Brandon Fink of Pennsylvania, and seeks damages of more than $10,000. The responding parties have 45 days to respond to the complaint. Fink is requesting that the case be tried by a 12-person jury.

Bewley pulled out from an entrance to a public beach in Ashland to turn east onto U.S. Highway 2 shortly before 12:30 p.m. July 22, according to Ashland city police. Her car struck another car heading west driven by Ortman.

Ortman’s car spun across the highway and hit a third car, driven by Munson, that was traveling east. Ortman’s 5-year-old daughter was pronounced dead at the scene, police said. Ortman later died of her injuries at Ashland's Memorial Medical Center.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation had not completed their crash reconstruction investigation as of Sept. 22 and indicated that it could be several weeks before it was ready to be sent to the office of Ashland District Attorney David Meany. The district attorney’s office will make the decision whether to file charges.


The civil suit alleges that negligence by Bewley, Munson and Ortman was responsible for the child’s death. It accuses Bewley of failing to maintain a proper lookout, disregarding the right of way and driving while distracted. Munson is accused of failing to maintain a proper lookout and failing to maintain a proper speed in order to avoid a collision. It accuses Ortman of failing to maintain a proper lookout, failing to maintain a proper speed and failing to maintain control of her vehicle.

Also named in the suit are State Farm Automobile Insurance Company, which provided liability insurance to Bewley, Progressive Universal Insurance Company, which provided liability insurance to Munson, and Ortman’s liability insurance carrier, Progressive Advanced Insurance Company.

Janet Bewley accident.jpg
Alyssa Ortman, 27, and her 5-year-old child died after their car collided with another driven by state Sen. Janet Bewley.

Maria Lockwood covers news in Douglas County, Wisconsin, for the Superior Telegram.
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As reported by Douglas County Circuit Court.