Incident Type: Recklessly Endangering Safety
Incident Date: 8/21/23
Release Date: 8/22/23
Incident Number: FP23-17569
Prepared By: Lt. Edward Hartwick
Since August 15, the Fitchburg Police Department has investigated three incidents of people dropping or throwing rocks from a railroad bridge over Highway 14, just south of Ski Lane. Incidents were reported on August 15, 16, and 19 between 10:00 and 10:30 p.m. each night. At least eighteen vehicles were damaged over the course of these three incidents. Two occupants of damaged vehicles also reported minor injuries.
Additional officers were deployed to the area to monitor for potential suspects in response to these extremely dangerous incidents. On Monday, August 21, around 10 p.m., a Fitchburg sergeant, a pilot for the City’s drone team, was flying a drone above the bridge when he noticed two individuals.
A short time later, while still using the drone, the sergeant saw one of the individuals begin throwing rocks from the railroad bridge onto Highway 14. Additional officers converged on the area and were able to arrest the individual throwing rocks. The other individual ran from officers but was located hiding a short distance away.
The two individuals, both 15-year-old boys, were transported to the Dane County Juvenile Reception Center. Multiple charges of first and second-degree recklessly endangering safety and criminal damage to property will be referred to the Dane County District Attorney’s Office.
In addition to the thousands of dollars of property damage they caused, these incidents significantly jeopardized the safety of many unsuspecting motorists. Fortunately, this dangerous behavior resulted in no significant crashes, injuries, or fatalities.
This incident highlights the value of unmanned aerial vehicles (drones). Among their many benefits, the technology allows pilots to monitor areas from a safe distance, reaching places that may otherwise be unreachable. In the darkness, drones can also quickly locate individuals hiding, thus making situations safer for officers.
If you believe you were the victim of one of these incidents but have not yet reported it, please call the Fitchburg Police Department at (608)270-4300