WEST SALEM — Authorities are investigating the circumstances surrounding the Sept. 16 death of a West Salem woman.
Todd Kendhammer told authorities he was driving north on Hwy. M in the town of Hamilton between 7:30 and 8:30 a.m. Sept. 16 when a pipe that fell from a passing truck impaled the passenger side of his windshield, striking his wife, Barbara Kendhammer, according to the La Crosse County Sheriff’s Department.
Authorities found the couple’s damaged Toyota Camry on nearby Bergum Coulee Road, a dead-end road seven miles from the couple’s home at N6617 E. Scotch Coulee Road. Todd Kendhammer, who was not injured, had removed the pipe from the windshield and his wife was unresponsive, sheriff’s Capt. John Zimmerman said Tuesday.
Barbara Kendhammer died the next day at Gundersen Health System. She was 46.
Authorities declined to discuss autopsy results.
The Wisconsin State Patrol Technical Reconstruction Unit, state Department of Justice Division of Criminal Investigation and sheriff’s department on Friday returned to the crash site on Hwy. M just south of Bergum Coulee Road to recreate the crash as described by Kendhammer.
They let a 53-inch metal pipe weighing 10.5 pounds — an exact replica of the one recovered after the incident — roll off an incline constructed in the bed of a pickup truck driving at 40 mph and 50 mph. Multiple cameras recorded the fall of the pipe and where it struck the pavement.
A report from the reconstruction unit could take months.
Attorney Alexander Kammer, who is representing Barbara Kendhammer’s estate, said Todd Kendhammer is pursuing an uninsured motorist claim against the driver of the truck. Kendhammer also has retained a Madison defense attorney, Kammer said. That attorney did not return phone calls Tuesday.
Anyone who may have been near the scene of the crash is asked to call Zimmerman at 608-785-9856. Anonymous tips can also be made to La Crosse Area Crime Stoppers at 608-784-8477.