Summer in Wisconsin is Already Over for Some Teens

After the crash that took the life of  Dionna Cook, who thought she was getting a ride home (Courtesy: David Tuyls)

After the crash that took the life of Dionna Cook, who thought she was getting a ride home (Courtesy: David Tuyls)

Schools haven’t ended for the year here in Wisconsin, yet for some schoolchildren here and in nearby Milton WI, summer is already over.

Dionna Cook is one of them. This young sister went on a late night ride home with a carload of kids, all of whom were underage, only a couple of weeks before she was to graduate from junior high. Two boys were in the front seats, and four girls were in the rear, with one girl sitting on another’s lap. Well, long story short, Dionna Cook is dead at 14. Her ride home ended in a fatal crash on Milwaukee Street. The driver did not have had a learner’s permit, and his friend riding shotgun was the one who swiped the car keys from a neighbor. Both boys and another girl have subsequently been arrested and variously charged on their hospital beds with homicide by negligent operation of vehicle; second degree recklessly endangering safety; operating a motor vehicle without owner’s consent; and failure to render aid to injured.

Cook’s family wasn’t supposed to make the drive from Chicago to Madison for another week, but Friday night’s tragedy on Milwaukee Street is bringing them together sooner than expected.

“We were coming up for her graduation, but now we have to have a funeral,” said [Charlotte] Jackson [Dionna’s aunt].

Though obviously devastated, Dionna’s mother Portia said she is leaning on her faith and family to get her through this terrible loss.

“She was one of the most loving and caring little girls that I’ve ever seen,” said Jackson. “She liked lipstick, she loved being pretty.”

Family members said the 14-year-old loved to sing in her church choir, playing the violin, shopping and her family.

Just a regular young girl who made a wrong choice.

From three TV news stations in Madison, Channels 3, 15 and 27, I was able to piece together what happened. Dionna got into the Toyota Corolla on her way home from her friend’s party at a mall; she interrupted a bus ride to complete her journey with her friends. (Word to your kids.) A police captain confirmed that after the teens came across an officer in the area who shouted for them to slow down, the driver may have panicked. The two boys then fought over control of the steering wheel, which precipitated the vehicle sideswiping one car and careening into an SUV driven by…of all people…a drunk driver.

Only one passenger was wearing a seat belt in the Corolla.

Forty-year-old Anthony Cardona was booked into the Dane County Jail and is tentatively charged with operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated. But police are convinced that Cardona had little to do with the fatal collision. It just may be that the kids kept him from causing vehicular mayhem with another driver.

The two boys, already “known to police,” and badly injured, managed to run away from the scene along with one of the girls, but they were apprehended and brought to local hospitals. Another girl still hasn’t awoken from a coma. Neither police nor the Madison Metropolitan School District have released the names or schools of the other kids involved; it was Dionna’s family that stepped forward to identify her and describe what kind of girl she was.

The fatal victim’s mother, Portia Jallow, told 27 News she is not out for revenge against the boys involved in the fatal crash. Jallow said she knows the teen driver. But Jallow said her daughter deserved the boys’ help.

“They ran and left my baby.”

Remembering Dionna Cook on the street where she died (Courtesy: WKOW)

Remembering Dionna Cook on the street where she died (Courtesy: WKOW)

A shrine has been erected on Milwaukee Street at the site of the crash in Dionna’s memory. Additionally, a fund has been created by the Goodman Community Center on behalf of Dionna Cook’s family. If you would like to contribute, the address is:

Dionna Cook Benefit Account
c/o Goodman Community Center
Which can be delivered or mailed to any Amcore Bank
The closest one is at 3003 E. Washington Ave. Madison, WI 53704

Meanwhile, over in nearby Milton, south of Madison and just a little north of Janesville, Wisconsinites have graduated from hillbilly heroin to the real deal. Really trips one out to learn that places like Milton aren’t so bucolic, pastoral and clean living any more. Heroin is cheaper and easier to acquire than the chemical stuff. It’s coming from Southeast Asian and South American sources, distributed by black and Latino gangs, and it’s branching out beyond Milwaukee.

Unfortunately, in May, heroin trickled down to some kids who OD’ed on the stuff at a park. Yesterday’s Gazette Xtra story takes it from there:

The 15-year-old boy was at [Lori] Bone’s Milton home May 16 when he found heroin in her bedroom, [Milton Police Chief Jerry] Schuetz said.

The boy took the drugs and shared them with two friends, he said.

The park in Milton where three teens snorted heroin (Courtesy: Channel 3000)

The park in Milton where three teens snorted heroin (Courtesy: Channel 3000)

The three teens snorted the heroin in the home and went to an area park, Schuetz said.

While at the park, the teens began to suffer from overdose symptoms, including vomiting, he said.

Another teen happened to be at the park and saw the kids vomiting, Schuetz said.

He suspected the teens were overdosing on heroin and called a man he knew was a heroin user, he said.

The heroin user arrived at the park with Narcan, a drug used to revive victims of a heroin overdose, Schuetz said.

The user gave the drug to one of the teens who had passed out, he said.

The teens later returned to the home where they got the heroin, Schuetz said, and an adult called police.

They thought it was coke? At least, do yourself the favor of finding out what exactly it is you are drinking, smoking or whatever, if it is only to find out whether you like it or not.

Thankfully, all the kids have since recovered from this episode, including the child who passed out, but the fifteen-year-old who introduced his friends to the stuff faces felony charges of distribution of controlled substances to minors. If anything, he’s looking at a stint in juvie, something his parent(s) or guardian isn’t going to like, especially since the adult user, Lori Bone, whose stash this was, took off for parts unknown. She also faces charges of felony failure to render aid and felony contributing to the delinquency of minors when the authorities catch up with her.

Like I said, summer’s hardly started in Wisconsin–it’s been unseasonably wet and cool for spring, too–but the children are falling like wheat before the scythe. Keep your eyes peeled on your own darlings.

~ by blksista on June 3, 2009.

3 Responses to “Summer in Wisconsin is Already Over for Some Teens”

  1. dionna was one of my best friends… she knew just how to make me smile.. as with everyone else.. im going to miss that…


    • I am sorry for your loss. I am trying to find time to write more about what is happening in Madison. You take good care.


  2. i will always love dionna she is like a sister to me and to her family will give ass many blessings as i can all you have to do is asc


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