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Knapp native killed in I-94 crash near Elk Mound

By LeAnn R. Ralph

ELK MOUND  —  A 59-year-old Eau Claire man who was originally from Knapp was killed in a crash on I-94 near Elk Mound January 12.

Duane E. Close died after the pickup truck he was driving lost control on the slippery road, struck a guardrail and ended up coming to a rest in the westbound traffic lanes. Close’s pickup truck was then struck by a westbound semi-tractor-trailer operated by Estes Express Lines out of New Brighton, Minnesota, according to a news release from the Wisconsin State Patrol.

The accident happened at 3:51 a.m. that Tuesday morning on I-94 near mile marker 56 in Dunn County.

Troopers from the Wisconsin State Patrol Northwest Region Post in Eau Claire responded to the crash, and upon their arrival, located a pickup truck and semi unit in the median.

The driver of the semi truck, 62-year-old Timothy C. O’Donnell from Blaine, Minnesota, was not injured in the accident, but the 59-year-old driver from Eau Claire was fatally injured.

According to Close’s obituary, Duey, as he was known, graduated from Menomonie High School in 1974 and from UW-Stout in 1978.

After working in Minneapolis for a few years, Close returned to Wisconsin to work in the family business, the Knapp Creamery.

At the time of his death, Close had been an employee of the Menomonie school district for the past 16 years.

Funeral services for Close were held January 16. He will be buried at a later date at Forest Hill Cemetery in Knapp.