Woman Dies after Hitting Head in Wis. Ambulance

Woman Dies after Hitting Head in Wis. Ambulance

News Dec 01, 2012

The wife of a longtime Monona and McFarland newspaper publisher died Tuesday - hours before her husband also passed away - after she hit her head in an ambulance that braked abruptly while transporting her husband to a Fitchburg hospice, police said.

Laurel Huibregtse, 85, of Madison died at UW Hospital from injuries she suffered Monday while accompanying her husband to Agrace HospiceCare, said Fitchburg police Lt. Chad Brecklin.

Her husband, Donald Huibregtse, 86, former publisher of the Monona Community Herald and McFarland Community Life, died several hours later at the hospice.

He was being transported by a Ryan Brothers ambulance at about 5 p.m. Monday when the driver braked abruptly on Fish Hatchery Road near Brendan Avenue to avoid hitting a vehicle that was stopped behind another vehicle that was waiting to make a U-turn and partially blocking the traffic lane, Brecklin said.

Laurel Huibregtse, who was sitting on a bench seat, slid off the seat and hit her head, he said.

"It is my understanding that she was not wearing a seat belt," Brecklin said, adding that police are looking into whether there is an exemption to the state's seat belt law that would apply to an passenger in the back of an ambulance.

Don Huibregtse was on a cot in the ambulance and didn't slide off, he said.

"There wasn't any collision, just a freak, unique situation," Brecklin said.

The driver, Joshua P. Weber, 28, of Fort Atkinson, and an EMT in the ambulance, Charles S. Parr, 24, of Waunakee, were not injured, Brecklin said.

Patrick Ryan of Ryan Brothers Ambulance Service declined to comment on the incident.

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Brecklin said it appeared no criminal charges would be filed in the case. The department was still determining if any citations would be issued.

"It was just a real tragic situation," Brecklin said.

Madison attorney Bruce Huibregtse, one of the couple's four children, said Wednesday that his family was grieving the unexpected loss of both of his parents and did not want to comment on the circumstances surrounding their deaths.

He said his father died after a long battle with cancer.

His parents enjoyed a close relationship filled with a joint love of travel, his father's love of golf and his mother's passion for bridge, he said, adding that each learned the other's game so they could share each other's interests.

They met as summer workers at the Dairyman's Country Club in Boulder Junction and were married on April Fool's Day in 1950. For years, they sold brats outside Badgers games for the East Madison Optimists Club, of which Don Huibregtse was a member.

Bruce Huibregtse said his parents taught him and his siblings - David, Don Jr., and Connie - "it's important to have a sense of humor and to have a positive attitude."

Don Huibregtse became owner and publisher of the Monona Community Herald in 1968 and McFarland Community Life in 1972. He received numerous Wisconsin Better Newspaper Contest awards, including publisher of the year. He retired in 1988.

Bruce Huibregtse described his father as "a true weekly newspaper man" who believed "the newspaper was an important part of the community."

His mother was the food service director for the Monona Grove School District for about 20 years, he said. She also attained the level of life master, the most highly sought achievement in bridge.

"She sometimes felt it necessary to edit my father's editorials," Bruce Huibregtse said. "In fact, she told me that the day she died."

A celebration of their lives is planned for Dec. 27.

Copyright 2012 Madison Newspapers, Inc.All Rights Reserved

Wisconsin State Journal (Madison, Wisconsin)
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